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Getting by with a little help from our friends

Anne Daniels, President
NZNO Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa

Last week I attended an amazing concert that abounded with local talent covering Beatles songs, and one in particular was about “getting a little help from our friends.” That very much made me think about the NZNO rallies coming up on our 15 April Day of Action.

Some say a problem shared is a problem halved. It is about deciding to reach out and recognising who to reach out to. Te Whatu Ora has an overarching goal of “creating an equitable, integrated and sustainable health service with “a shift of emphasis towards primary and community care allowing more people to be cared for close to home and take a greater role in their own health and wellbeing.”

A shift towards primary and community care requires resourcing in both the public and funded sector. That means supporting more nurses, community midwives, care workers, kaiāwhina etc to work in the sector. Right now, however there are massive shortages of nurses and other health care workers everywhere. And you know that we are undervalued, underpaid, unsupported to do our work safely. Care must also be culturally safe to meet the needs of those who need it most.

So why are most of our health dollars going to cure? Social determinants of health account for 30-55 percent of health outcomes and even more when looking at population health outcomes. Social determinants of health are non-medical factors that influence health outcomes (economic, social, political policy, education, unemployment, working/life conditions, food insecurity, housing, and many more).

Addressing the social determinants of health is fundamental to improving health, preventing illness and reducing inequities. It requires everyone to get involved, and we need every nurse, everywhere to make this happen.

Each one of us (more than 56,000 members), our whānau, friends, neighbours, groups, communities, and regions need to stand together and demand that the emphasis and resourcing of the medical model of health is shifted to eliminate the factors that contribute to ill health. Long-term, this will reduce the demand on the hospitals, reduce costs and improve everyone’s health and wellbeing.

On 15 April NZNO is having a Day of Action. Members have a real opportunity to encourage our nation to stand together and make those demands. All around the country we will have marches, rallies with fun activities and kai, and a few speeches to tell our Government, our public servants, and what we want from them. We will also be launch a petition calling on political parties to commit to NZNO’s fixes for the health system And we want that petition to be massive!

We need a little help from you and your friends to make health (not illness) a top priority in the coming election. Maranga Mai! asks that every member, everywhere participates. Join us for an hour or two. Bring the kids, the family, the neighbours and make a collective stand for health.

Contact your groups and ask if you can advertise the Day of Action through your networks. Put up posters, txt/email your colleagues and invite them to stand with us. Lets’ show the power of the many, rising up together, and be part of the change we want to see.

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Are we part of our own demise?

Kerri Nuku, Kaewhakahaere
Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa NZNO

This week we marked International Women’s Day and the achievements of women seeking gender equality and a future where your gender is not a hindrance or an obstacle.

Aotearoa has had its own share of sheroes. Perhaps the most well documented are the women from suffrage movement in the late 1800s whose actions led to a landmark legislation that saw New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which women had the right to vote.

The campaigners led by Kate Sheppard were extraordinary for their times. Her feminist acts have been immortalised on our $10 bank note, commemorative stamps, and the statue in the heart of Wellington, inspiring both young and old.

Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, also an eminent campaigner and landowner, was the first woman to stand for the Māori Parliament, for the rights for women to vote and as a member of Parliament. She is noted for her contribution to Māori.

These women were not alone in their struggles. From the suffrage movement of the 1800s to Ihumatao and even our own fight for Pay Equity, these are still features of today. Strength, resilience and tenacity are the ingredients required to counter the stereotypes, racism, violence, misogyny, and discrimination that women continue to face while driving the equality agenda.

I have often personally struggled when someone calls themselves a feminist. Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia is not noted in history as being feminist, but she was a wahine toa. The language used to describe her mana is often minimised in comparison to others of the suffrage movement. So, feminism isn’t the act of burning the bra or how much or how little makeup, jewellery or the type of clothes you wear; it’s a reflection of the decisions, actions and choices you make to advocate against all resistance for the rights of women.

As a predominately female organisation and profession our own fights continue. While the attacks from politicians may not be as overt as the attacks against Pania Newton at Ihumato, the inaction and ignorance are just as brutal.

I wondered what we can learn from the history of the suffrage movement, the history of our wahine, to inform our future. Could the language I use be holding us back? As a profession I often draw the distinction between nurse and nursing, the role of the nurse is very well defined and articulated by the profession, but what of nursing? Doctors don’t talk of doctoring neither do any of the other health professional groups, so could the fact that the word nursing is used so commonly be contributing to one of our concerns around promoting the skilled role that nurses do.

A mother who breastfeeds is often referred to as nursing her baby, a sick person can be nursed at home, the use of nurse and nursing can be undertaken by people who may never have had any formal training.

We also talk about being “at the table” or being “invited to the table where the decisions are made”. This adopts a subservient approach, needing or seeking affirmation as opposed to doing as the pioneers continue to do, build strength and unity and have courage to stand on our own platforms. The coming National Day of Action on 15 April is our opportunity to do that!

I want to finish by acknowledging Georgina Beyer, her undeniable belief in herself, her strength and resilience, and who achieved so much and inspired many. She was, a member of Parliament who supported progressive policies including the prostitution law reforms, civil unions and anti-discrimination laws, as well as being an elected mayor.

Mate kotahitanga e whai kaha ai tātou.
In unity we have strength.