Search Media Releases


Archives, by date


Nominations open for prestigious Māori health award

Nominations are now open for Te Akenehi Hei Memorial Award for significant contribution to Māori Health. The award is open to all Māori nurses.

This is the highest honour that can be awarded by Te Rūnanga o Aotearoa - a Tiriti o Waitangi partner to the Te Poari o Te Rūnanga o Aotearoa New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), representing its Māori members. It is awarded every two years to at the NZNO Annual General Meeting and Conference. The recipient of the award is determined using criteria that include Rangatiratanga, Whanaungatanga, Kaitiakitanga, and Kotahitanga.

The Award is named after Akenehi Hei, the first Māori nurse and midwife to register under her own name rather than the name ‘Agnes’ given to her by her Pākehā employers. Like other Māori nurses, she was sent into rural and often isolated areas where there were outbreaks of epidemic diseases and hardship. She challenged cultural competencies and awareness in healthcare and pioneered district nursing. She was a courageous leader and inspired many others to take up nursing during this time.

Te Akenehi Hei Memorial Award recipient for 2022, Mahitahi Hauora Director of Nursing Rhoena Davis said it was an honour to receive the award. As a nurse practitioner, she attributes her work within Māori and rural health. Humbly, she dedicates her award to all that have worked alongside her and states it’s a team effort.

"The award was a recognition of the mahi of my team at Mahitahi and what we are doing to look at things differently and change the system. I encourage to people to provide nominations for the 2024 award and shine a light on the outstanding mahi being done by Māori nurses to improve health outcomes for Māori."

Rhoena has recently been awarded with the Peter Snow Memorial Award for 2023 for her longstanding service and dedication to rural health.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said some exceptional nurses and tauira have been recognised over the years through this award, and she was confident this year would be no different.

"Māori nurses are not only dedicated professionals but great innovators. This award provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase their day-to-day mahi for the betterment of their people, hei oranga motuhake mo ngā whānau, me ngā hapū, me ngā iwi katoa."

Nominations for Te Akenehi Hei Memorial Award 2024 opened yesterday (1 May 2024) and closes on 30 June 2024.

The award ceremony takes place at the annual Indigenous Nurses Conference in Tamaki, Auckland in August.

Direct Media Enquiries To:

Please send all media requests in writing to

NZNO communications and media advisors are:

Rob Zorn
027 431 2617  |  04 494 8242

Samesh Mohanlall
021 240 3420  |  04 494 6839

Support and member enquiries: 0800 28 38 48 or