NZNO's Blog

Nursing staff making their own words and music

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Anne Daniels, President
NZNO, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa

Many words were spoken, sung, whispered, shouted and written over three days at Te Papa, Wellington from 13-15 September. Our conference theme: “Nurses. Fronting the Battle for Health Nga Tapuhi – Te aroa kapa toa mo te hauora”, had many meanings for the 175 plus nurses, midwives, health care assistant and nurse practitioner participants.

Our words are powerful. They carry our thoughts and our intentions. Words have a deep connection to our way of being. Their effect can affect the “cardiac-orientating reflux”. This is when two or more hearts resonate together by listening to each other. Paying attention with an outward focus has a calming influence on the heart rate. Research suggests that a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress (Newberg & Walkman), positively or negatively. More importantly, the way words are expressed gives them power.

Māhirahira mai or staying curious, being interested in others and listening is good for our health as well as our effective leadership.

NZNO members and conference participants chose to “look up and look out” through our growing understanding of the Maranga Mai! campaign and what it meant for them as individuals, as whanau within their workplace, and the power we have in working collectively and in solidarity. This was tested, when conference participants learned that there was a change in the programme. It was a call for all to walk to parliament to honour the 50-year anniversary of 50th anniversary of the Māori language petition.

Some could not understand the connections with nursing but words spoken by NZNO leadership, particularly those from Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku, were heard.

Kerri told us the march to Parliament was a sign of solidarity to show those champions and pioneers who organised the march that we were there to support them.

“We have an obligation and an opportunity to deconstruct the walls that have been built and oppressed us. Whatever goes forward we are there, we are part of that, and we support them.”

The words resonated with those of us who listened and we acted.

The walk to Parliament gave respect to the 50-year-old fight to bring te reo Māori back into our schools, was a powerful reminder of what collective action can do for our hearts and minds. It was an action for the right to use words in a language that is the lifeblood for Māori. It brought us together.

The march gave us hope. It prepared us for a plea for help from Rachel Thorn, Whangarei ED CNM, to support her team’s action to Rise up through Maranga Mai! nationally. It turned into a call for action by NZNO CEO Paul Goulter, myself, Kerri and the NZNO board for all members to work their contracted FTE only in the week of October 3-9, 2022.

This was a fitting use of words that gave power to NZNO delegates to Maranga Mai! to go forth and act. We are stepping up and out to become the future we want to be.

Maranga Mai!

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