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A midwife’s story

Hi, my name is Lyndal Honeyman and I’ve been a midwife for 5 years now. I started studying midwifery because I was fascinated with the physical process of pregnancy and birth. It seemed mysterious and I wanted to know more.

What sustains me now is more than the processes of pregnancy and birth, it’s the whole journey of meeting women and families, walking with them as they grow and develop, give birth and begin their new life with a new baby.

There is one woman’s story that has stayed with me for years. It’s not a complicated story or a bad or sad story. For me, it’s a story that reminds me why I became a midwife.


They were a young couple and the woman was pregnant with their first baby. When I first met them, early in her pregnancy, she was feeling really unsure about the pregnancy and becoming a parent.

Sadly, she had been told by a medical professional that because her body mass index (BMI) was relatively high she would have a difficult pregnancy and definitely need a caesarean section birth. What better way to make a woman feel like she’s not good enough!

The poor woman was feeling ashamed, like she wasn’t good enough to be pregnant, let alone be a mother. She felt like she would fail at everything – birthing, feeding, mothering.


Fortunately we had plenty of time to build a relationship and I was able to reassure her and help her begin to delight in her pregnancy.

She went into labour pretty much right on her due date, which was great, and she had quite a long early labour. I saw her at home several times before we made the decision together to go to the birthing unit at the hospital.

Because the early stage of her labour was so long she was tired and began to get anxious and self-doubting again.

We discussed the next steps. She decided to have an epidural to assist her body to rest, as she had tried other physiological and pharmacological methods and found that they were not working for her at the time. We were able to help her create a calm and relaxing environment, which was very important to her to have, and she progressed very quickly and gave birth – on her hands and knees – to a handsome baby! She ended up having the birth she never thought she could have and I have never seen anyone so over the moon.

I could see on her face the sudden awareness that she was a strong and awesome woman, capable of anything! Suddenly it all came together for her – she knew she’d be able to feed her baby, she knew she’d be a great mother.

Film-Colour-10They went home the next morning feeling really, really confident.

And I went home that day feeling excited and humbled. I was honoured to have helped this woman to realise confidence in herself and her body, and was privileged to be part of her journey into motherhood.

I still feel relatively new in my career as a midwife. I am inspired by my colleagues who are so skilled, insightful and confident, whose years of practice have made them so wise. One day I will be like them.


Shining a light on depression

By Grant Brookes, NZNO president

A light was shone into a dark corner last month, when NZ Doctor magazine published a blog on depression among nurses.

It generated a strong reaction. When I shared the blog on social media, a lot of nurses responded.

Some of the responses were public comments. But other nurses shared stories of depression with me privately – including traumatic events which aren’t talked about.

I have learned of several suicides of some people in our profession in recent months.

But the overwhelming response was relief at being able to speak about this taboo subject, and a desire to get it out in the open. The nurses I spoke with also talked about why the problem is so big, and what might help.

And the problem is big ­– much bigger than it appears. For reasons I’ll get to, nurses are not disclosing their depression.

As one nurse put it, “I’m seeing more depressed nurses trying to hide it under a smile these days”. Another said that according to her GP, over 60 percent of the health professionals enrolled at that practice were on anti-depressants.

With almost two decades of experience working in adult mental health, I have an understanding of depression, from a nursing perspective.

I’ve practised long enough to remember old concepts like “reactive depression” (occurring in response to stressful events) and “endogenous depression” (with no previous stressor). These days, all depression is seen as linked to stress in some way.

Some of the nurses who spoke with me talked about stressors specific to their group. For the Internationally Qualified Nurses, who make up over a quarter of our workforce, there is separation from family support networks, and often cultural dislocation as well.

One mental health nurse talked about the emotional impact of “dealing with out of control behaviour”. “It’s a thankless job”, he said.

A former prison nurse told me, “During my year working as an RN in prisons I witnessed violence and experienced cases involving sexual violence, self-harm/suicide, physical assault and death. That there was no support available from my employer is still shocking to me”.

But there were also common themes. The reality for all of us in the acute care setting is that we relate to people in distress. As one nurse put it, we have “constant experiences of vicarious trauma”.

Another common theme was expressed by a rural nurse. She told me that her team all love nursing. “We do it because we like caring. But it compromises your personal values when you can’t give that care, when you know it’s not ideal. It creates a conflict within yourself”.

A younger nurse described the same thing. She said she had done postgrad last year and learned to name the problem. “It’s moral distress”, she said. Many others talked about how their mental health was affected by this stressor, too.

The increasing demands on nurses, including more and more time being spent at work, were also widely reported. “I have colleagues who work many extra unpaid hours and are constantly exhausted”, a Senior Nurse told me. “It is commonplace to hear colleagues tell of how they cannot sleep at night. Some are gaining weight, others losing it, and tears are not uncommon. The relentlessness of the work is demoralizing and there is the constant fear of making a mistake”.

More hours at work also means less time for the family. This leads to feelings of guilt. These are strongly associated with depression.

Sometimes these feelings of guilt are deliberately created by managers. One nurse said, “I have been told that ‘it is an expectation of nurses to work beyond your scheduled hours’, ‘you are reluctant to change’, ‘what if it was your mother?’, to list a few”.

This is related to the problem of workplace bullying, another stressor linked to depression which was mentioned by many.

Some who shared their stories spoke of colleagues who expressed negative attitudes towards nurses with depression. But on the other hand, all mentioned others in the nursing team who had supported them.

The range of attitudes among managers appears narrower, however. I was told that nurses with depression are not supported by their managers in the way that, say, staff with health conditions like asthma or diabetes are.

“There needs to be a general acceptance that you can work with depression”, a ward nurse told me. Others named what it means when nurses with depression are treated differently by employers: “stigma”. A number of people said they think this is why depression is not disclosed by nurses.

Based on this, the things which might help address this hidden epidemic start to become clear. Firstly, campaigns to destigmatise mental illness in society at large are part of the solution, to enable safe disclosure and help-seeking. The experiences of the former prison nurse also point to the need for debriefing after traumatic incidents.

Professional and clinical supervision were also raised by some of those I spoke with – and not just by mental health nurses, who use it much more often than anyone else. As one nurse said, “Supervision is not individual therapy, but it can help with problems before they get that big, and it can signal the need for extra mental health support”.

But the helping strategy which was mentioned most often was EAP (Employee Assistance Programme). For employers who opt into it, EAP provides short-term counselling for staff, for free. This appears to be reasonably accessible in DHBs, but Primary Health Care Nurses told me that it’s sometimes harder for them to get.

While many appreciated EAP, there was this also this comment from an Enrolled Nurse: “A service like EAP is needed to help staff acknowledge and alleviate some of the pressures, but I also understand they’re not a cure and that the Ministry of Health and the government need to own some accountability for why there’s added stress of late in the workplace”.

This leads onto a final point, made by a Primary Health Care Nurse. Depression, and the stressors which cause it, are not just individual and workplace issues. They are social problems, too.

“There is this view among nurses that things are getting tough and that we can’t do much about it. Depression can be related to the feeling that we have no control. Until nurses collectively realise this and use our influence, then I would anticipate that depression and burnout will only increase”.

We all feel down from time to time, but symptoms of depression should be taken seriously if they last for more than two weeks. You might be showing a number of the warning signs, or none in particular – everyone is different. If you are in any doubt, talk to your doctor or try the Self-Test on the site.

You can also



Its tough out there for new grads

NETPNZNO associate professional services manager Hilary Graham-Smith talks about the realities of too few Nurse Entry to Practice (NEtP)places and too many new grad nurses not getting the support they should have.

It’s a busy time of year for everyone, especially for the hundreds of newly graduated nurses out there who have just got the results of their state finals and are now looking for jobs.

It’s tough out there. We know it. And that’s why we’re feeling pretty disappointed that the Minister of Health is putting out press statements painting a rosy picture of the nursing landscape.

NZNO, and the other national nursing organisations have a goal of 100% Nurse Entry to Practice places for all new grad nurses by 2018. We’re pushing hard to make it happen and pursuing every avenue for change.

The issues are complex:

  • There just aren’t enough NEtP places
  • The Government has not allocated enough funding to the NEtP programme
  • Employers want ‘experienced’ registered nurses
  • No NEtP programme for new graduate enrolled nurses
  • New graduates in their first year of practice working outside of the NEtP programme have inadequate support

The results of the latest Advanced Choice of Employment (ACE) round for graduating nurses makes for depressing reading. Of the 1451 applicants including first time and repeat applicants, 51% (735) gained employment in a Nurse Entry to Practice programme. November 2015 graduate numbers were 1245 and of those 568 did not gain employment through the ACE round. We can endlessly slice and dice the numbers every which way but the point is that we still have large numbers of graduating nurses who do not gain employment on a NEtP programme. Just hold that thought in your head as you read on.

The Minister’s press release celebrating this will have been of no comfort to unsuccessful applicants and makes those of us who know the real story shake our heads in dismay. For the Minister to say “This result is in line with the pattern seen in the first four years of ACE” suggests that the status quo is OK? Really?

In November 2013 the National Nursing Organisations convened a workshop with Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ). The purpose of that meeting was to inform HWNZ’s and the Office of the Chief Nurse’s direction for education, workforce development programmes and innovations. It was agreed that one of the key action points from that meeting should be “a balanced approach to the nursing pipeline, including full utilisation of Nurse Entry to Practice funding to support a goal of 100 per cent employment of new graduates”*. The timeframe for achieving this was 2018 at the latest.

One could reasonably expect that two years on we would see some improvement in the numbers of new registered nurses being employed through the ACE programme.

In the same press release the Minister goes on to say “The data also shows from past ACE rounds that the vast majority of graduate nurses find employment over the next year”.  The salient truth about this statement is that the new graduates may well find employment outside the NEtP programme but this is likely to be in environments where they will be given too much responsibility and will not have the support and oversight of more experienced nurses. Our experience is that  these new graduates end up in competency reviews, disciplinary proceedings, in front of the coroner’s court or being reported to the Health and Disability Commission. NZNO lawyer, Margaret Barnett-Davidson had this to say, “In rest home/hospitals where nurses faced allegations relating to their practice, there were a number of common issues that increased the nurse’s vulnerability….. unsupportive managers and caregivers, time pressures too challenging for the skill set, busy environments and accepting responsibilities beyond manageability or competence level.” (Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, November 2013)

Remove the gloss and spin from the rhetoric and the fact is that the registered nurse workforce is being disadvantaged by systemic unfair funding models that do not recognise it as the largest health workforce in New Zealand and one that is pivotal to providing safe and effective care for our populations and communities.

Yes the issues are multi layered as are the solutions, yes there needs to be collaboration between the education providers and employers and yes we need a strategic plan that takes account of the nursing workforce shortage predicted for 2035. But first of all we need an equity lens passed over the funding that is made available to nursing, in particular our new graduate nurses.

* (Summary of selected themes and some agreed actions that emerged from discussions at the Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ) Nursing workshop held on 29th November 2013).





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Why not make your life a bit easier?

2015-09-28 Member advantageNZNO knows how life can be expensive and complicated to manage sometimes.  That’s why, as a member, you and your family can enjoy exclusive discounts on a range of quality lifestyle and financial services. In addition to the NZNO negotiated benefits, Member Advantage, NZNO’s partner, offers you unlimited use of all products and services, and provides the opportunity to save money on everyday expenses and special purchases. Your benefits include special offers on:

  • Great discounts on hotels worldwide
  • Attractive corporate rates on car rental
  • Competitive foreign exchange rates across 47 currencies
  • Savings on over 4,500 experiences and gifts

And discover 3 new benefits:

  • Petals Florist Network – Receive 10% discount on flower orders
  • Specsavers New Zealand Ltd – 25% off 1 pair of glasses when you spend over $169
  • NZ Millennium Hotels and Resorts – Receive 20% off the best available rate at any Millennium Hotels and Resorts in New Zealand.

Click here and log in using your NZNO membership number to discover the benefits available to you.



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Memo Musa – conference address

Memo Musa AGM4Last week NZNO held its AGM and conference. This year around 300 delegates and college and section members met at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to discuss and make decisions about our organisation, nursing and the wider health sector. We learned new skills, to celebrated our successes and took up the challenges that were laid down.

Our new elected leaders were welcomed and our our departing leaders were thanked for their mahi. One of the highlights of the AGM and conference were the wonderful speakers, from within NZNO, around the motu and throughout the world. 

Here is the address given by NZNO chief executive, Memo Musa on the morning of the first day. 

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

I am Memo Musa, Chief Executive of NZNO.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to NZNO’s 22nd Annual General Meeting. And to our exhibitors and sponsors who are here today and for conference tomorrow, welcome. I know that Marion and Kerri have welcomed you already but it is important that I do so too.

This is my second report to the AGM on NZNO’s performance during the past financial year.

I hope you have had the opportunity to read our Annual Report 2014/15 and reflect on our operational and financial performance as well as our achievements.

I would like to take a few minutes to take you through some of the key highlights of the year. Before I do so, I would like to comment briefly about the AGM today. You will have seen from the information you received that we have a total of seven remits and twelve policy remits. These should provide us today an opportunity to fine tune some aspects of the constitution as well as debate or discuss policy matters that are important to you and require our collective action as an organisation. I accept that it is a democratic process to amend aspects of the constitution. I would like to sound alarm bells that this can equally create a state of inertia as it makes it difficult to work within rules that are continually changing. That said, some improvement are required.

Back to key highlights from the past year:

We started the year with five priorities.

  • To increase and maintain membership
  • To increase the visibility of NZNO’s role as a professional association of nurses
  • To promote nurses and the nursing profession
  • To contribute to health sector workforce planning
  • To improve organisational health

Strong operational management and transparent reporting are critical to the long term success and creation of value. This is why, with support from the Board, during the past two years we have completely revamped the Annual Report to give you more information, detailed highlights, successes and challenges. This provides us an opportunity to celebrate successes and face up to what we could have done better. Often we hear that we do not celebrate or showcase our successes enough.

Now the key highlights. I will only pick a few to illustrate key points.

Increase and maintain membership

The biggest challenge for any member organisation is maintaining membership, let alone increase it. Membership levels have a big impact on the viability and sustainability of NZNO.

The solid work you are doing, including the work by our organisers, industrial advisors, professional nurse advisors and other staff through our organising ethos, models and approaches, including our communication, has resulted in us maintaining our membership numbers at above 46,675 based on 2013/14 year with a very modest increase of 103 members to 46,778 members.

Our biggest growth was in the registered nurse members were we saw an increase of 918 members from the previous year totalling 35,275. This makes up 72 percent of practicing registered nurses. According to the Nursing Council there are 48,406 registered nurses practicing.

However we had challenges with student nurse membership which declined from 4,225 in 2011 to 2,700 by the end of March this year a drop of 36 percent. This a concern we must address.

Fellow colleagues, we cannot ‘rest on our laurels’ when it comes to membership, as during the past five years union membership in New Zealand has been in decline.

In 2010 there was a decline of 2.1 percent

2011 it fell by 1.3 percent

Then 1.4 percent in 2012

By 2013 it had fallen by 2.0 percent and at the end of March 2014 this had fallen by 1.8 percent. I am waiting for the 2015 figures to be published. My guess is that the same trend will continue.

Whilst overall we are doing better than some unions and professional associations we have room to improve.

Increasing NZNO’s role as a professional association

Promoting nurses and the nursing profession

At our AGM last year some of you may recall my report and reflections. I stated that advocacy and lobbying are at the core of what we do to advance the agenda for nursing teams both from an industrial and professional perspective. Being an election year, I observed that on one hand there is a sense that we are not visible, not adversarial or political enough, that we need to be out there and showing leadership on key issues, on the other hand some argue and lament that we are politically biased or in favour of a particular political leaning whilst others say we are negative and adversarial, whilst other say we are doing ok.

The profile of our role as a professional association, promoting nurses and the nursing profession is critical to our future existence at the same par as membership.

Demonstrating relevance and value add to patient outcomes, healthy families and communities should be the cornerstone or platform upon which we build our profile as an association and by promoting nurses and the nursing profession.

I am pleased to report that during the last year we continued to push forward our agenda to promote NZNO, nurses and the nursing profession by increasing our clarity of relevance and value add.

On Wednesday 28 August 2013 the main headlines in the Dominion Post read “Nurses ration patient care” “Families pitch in as staff stretched”. This article reported nursing shortages at Wairarapa and Hutt Valley hospitals stating that nurses are ‘rationing’ their care to patients. It referred to essential care being prioritised over patient ‘comfort’ or ‘non-essential’ tasks.

The following day Thursday 29 August 2013 the main headline read ”Rationed care cuts deep says patients” reporting that ‘care rationing in understaffed hospitals is affecting basic medical needs as well as comfort, patients say.”

There was the usual follow up discussion and debate in the media and between nurse leaders with attention being on nurses’ decisions and actions about patient care when faced with nursing shortages or the wrong skill mix.

What was missing in all the dialogue was the fact that in reality it was not nurses rationing care, it the public health system; the way it is funded resulting in not having enough nurses, inadequate time, and the right skill mix to provide complete care.

Our policy and research teams, with member input and consultation, developed a position statement on Care Rationing which was presented to all District Health Boards, the Ministry of Health and the Minister of Health. This helped change the dialogue and inform the debate on this very complex area which often is very emotive.

You will hear about this more this afternoon.

We also embarked on a project to increase the visibility of nurses of which the first phase establish a theme which is “Nurses – Making the Difference in Healthcare”. A website has been set up where nurses can share stories. You can access this through our website under the campaigns banner. The second phase involves identifying and training nurse champions. A third phase to promote and increase the visibility of nursing is yet to commence.

You will hear more about this in more detail this afternoon.

Another highlight is our work is with the Service and Food Workers Union Ngā Ringa Tota on the campaign for equal pay “All the way for equal pay”. The sterling legal defence work which saw the Court decline Terranova’s leave to appeal on and directing the Employment Court to establish equal pay principles to resolve the equal pay claim.

Again we will hear about this in more detail this afternoon.

One last key highlight under this section is the work we do to represent members, whether it be through Health and Disability Commissioner investigations, employment related matters, Professional Conduct Committee and Health Practitioner’s Tribunal hearings. Approximately 237 ‘events’ were taken up involving more than about 3000 members. We noticed an upward trend in the request for representation and the number of complaint against nurses which are being made to the Health and Disability Commissioner. We have also noticed an increase in the number of nurses that the Health and Disability Commissioner finds in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumer Rights. Last year we challenged the Commissioner by asserting that some of the breaches could be at the system level not the individual nurses’, and primarily caused by inadequate funding which leads to poor staffing levels impacting on patient care. We asked him what approach he intended to take to address some the breaches we considered to be at a system level. His response was that his concern was “primarily to assess the quality of health and disability services” and the system issues I had raised were better addressed by District Health and and/or the Ministry of Health’. This I found astounding.

Fellow colleagues, I will make no apologies for saying that if we fail to show relevance and to add value it will be to our detriment. Some antagonists might think what we do is ‘all about us’. Clearly that is not true. Promoting the profession of nursing and nursing standards is a key foundation to strive for recognising the mutual interdependency with our industrial focus and that getting the balance right is very critical.

Contribute to health sector workforce planning

I am going to tell you something you already know.

Nursing is the biggest workforce in the New Zealand public health and disability system. According to a report on health workforce released by the Ministry of Health and Health Workforce New Zealand in November last year, nursing makes up about 54 percent of the regulated health workforce in New Zealand, based on annual practicing data of all regulated professions. Internationally there are between 16 and 19 million nurses according to estimates by the International Council of Nurses.

We are the backbone of the public health and disability system. We nurses are everywhere, in patient’s homes, general practice, clinics, hospitals, prisons, community homes, residential care, education, research units, management and leadership, policy development and regulation.

After many years of advocating and lobbying for a national workforce plan for nursing, last year we were successful, together with other nurse leaders, in convincing Health Workforce New Zealand to set up a national nurse workforce programme. Whilst progress continues to be slow, a joint governance group and working group have been put into place. The areas agreed to be given priority attention are:

  1. Improving the integrity of nursing workforce information and data
  2. Graduate nurse employment
  3. Nurse retention
  4. Nursing workforce plan

This is a major step forward. However results are yet to be evident.

On the New Graduate Employment front the online petition urging the Minister of Health to fund a one year Nurse to Entry Practice Programme for every graduate nurse drew more than 8000 signatures in a week. Thank you to all who contributed to this petition. This resulted in two key achievements as steps in the right direction:

  1. Additional funding of $2.8m per annum from this year was granted by the Minister of Health to fund an additional 200 places.
  1. The eligibility period was increased from one year to two years.

This firmly remains on our horizon with a goal of 100 percent funded places by 2018.

We got behind, supported and were involved in the proposal by Auckland University for a funded nurse practitioner education programme linked to employment. It took a long time for this to work its way through the bureaucracy of Ministry of Health and Health Workforce New Zealand. Eventually funding was granted for a programme to commence in March 2016. Auckland and Massey universities will run this programme.

We supported the Nursing Council’s application for nurse prescribing. This is important as an enabler for us to work at the top of our scopes of practice; which in time will result in an increase to access to nurse-led services for vulnerable populations and those with long-term health conditions.

Working with the Fiona Unac, Chair of the Perioperative Nurses College we saw Auckland University endorse a new Certificate of Proficiency for Registered Nurse Assistant to the Anaesthetist.

The work by the Enrolled Nurses Section to develop a dedicated Supported Entry to Practice Programme was completed. Now the challenge that lies ahead is to advocate and lobby for this to be funded.

Lastly we successfully got onto the Governance Group for the Kaiāwhina Workforce Action Plan. This was in response to concerns raised by the Enrolled Nurses Section. We argued that the Kaiāwhina workforce is a continuum of the nursing team, and that it is important that the action plan be developed within that context. This will remain a challenge but we will continue to influence, advocate and lobby.

Workforce development is complex with multiple strands to which we need to be tuned into all the time. There is no ‘one size fits all’ and our messages on these areas going forward need to be targeted at getting results for you.

Improve organisational health

Improving organisational health is controversial and a challenging philosophical concept.

From a financial perspective we are making in-roads into recovering financial losses from the past. We ended the year with a positive financial result which David will present to you later. The Board has worked hard with me and the Management Team to tackle a few areas to manage costs.

We should always be mindful and keep an eye on our financial reserve and not to use them to support organisational operational structures. Alarm bells should ring if we head in that direction.

Our staff are key to the achievements and the highlights I have reported on and those in the annual report. I applaud their commitment and relentless effort, their willingness to go the extra mile to do what is right for members. In response to key pressures we supported our staff by putting more resources into the following areas;

  1. Professional Nurse Advisors, an increase from 7.7 FTEs to 9.1 FTEs with a focus on Hamilton and Christchurch.
  2. Industrial Advisor increase of 0.5 FTE
  3. Finance Office 1.0 FTE

These organisational growth areas are in response to our commitment to get to member issues quickly.

Fellow colleagues from time to time you will hear all sorts from people about what is happening within the organisation.

I will stress to you that you need context and background to know what is going on and sometimes what you hear may not be correct and other times it may be. It pays to contact me directly on operational matters.

In conclusion,

My assessment is that NZNO has done well during the past year. Some of you may say not enough in some areas, and I acknowledge that.

We can never do enough!


I would like to place on record my sincere appreciation of the work you have done in the past year and will continue to do this year, the work done on your behalf by our staff and the support of the Board and Management Team.

I will mention again the point I made at last year’s AGM

“What we do comes with its own challenges and tensions but let us remember and work together as united we stand, divided we fall. We are one profession with many roles and voices, we are a collective and together we can continue to make a massive influence. Together we make an effective team.” Together we can be effective in shaping healthcare in New Zealand.

Lastly but not least I would to thank all our exhibitors and sponsors at this AGM and conference tomorrow.

I hope you enjoy the AGM and conference and that you get the best networking opportunities, so you can take away important ideas to innovate and to champion for changes in whatever health setting you work within.

No reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.


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Perioperative Nurses College Annual Conference

Role 2 Light Manoeuvre (R2LM) Hospital Exercise at Linton Camp

Role 2 Light Manoeuvre (R2LM) Hospital Exercise at Linton Camp

Kia ora koutou katoa, I’m Fiona Unac, Chair of the Perioperative Nurses College, NZNO. Perioperative nurses provide care to patients and their families/whānau across the perioperative continuum. We work in a variety of settings including, outpatient departments, day surgery units, intervention and investigative units, radiological departments, surgical inpatient units, operating rooms, post anaesthetic care units and more.

Our College supports and promotes the safe and optimal care of all patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures. We promote high standards of nursing practice through education and research.

One of the ways we work towards these goals is by hosting an annual conference. From 24-26 September 2015 we’re celebrating our 42nd, and it’s shaping up to be really great! With a theme of “Reflection and Action” we guarantee there will be something for everyone.

Bringing perioperative nurses together from around the country gives us an opportunity to share our skills and knowledge, hear about innovations and improvements in practice and celebrate the important work we do.

Organising the conference is a big part of PNC college activities, which is supported by an energetic team and financed by sponsors and NZNO.  The conference committee aim to make sure this years’ conference is going to be better than ever.

One of the highlights for me so far – and I’m sure it will for attendees too – is the chance to acknowledge nursing’s role during 100 years of New Zealand at war. Our conference is being held in Palmerston North and we’re taking advantage of the links that Palmerston North has with Linton Military Camp.

We have some presentations scheduled that will give you an insight in what it means to work as an army nurse with… (drum roll please!) a fully functioning deployable hospital that is constructed to operate anywhere around the world. The deployable surgical team has been to the Awapuni Racecourse to locate the best site for the deployable hospital that they will put up for the duration of our conference – it will be hard to miss at 40 x 40 m²! This is a huge set up – with Resus, X-ray, Lab, Theatre, Sterile Services, Post surgical care (for all levels of acuity) and storage areas all within air conditioned shelters.

Other highlights include a history of NZ military nursing, an introduction to the NZNO “Nurses – making the difference in healthcare” campaign and a keynote speech by Dr Swee Tan.

If you’re a perioperative nurse and you haven’t already registered for the conference, now is the time to do it. Check out the conference website here:

I can’t wait!


My NZNO korowai

Debbie PaperaDebbie Papera is an NZNO staff member who works in the Wellington Regional Office. She is involved in the Māori staff group Te Whakaruruhau and is on Te Ara Reo Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Debbie is a supporter of NZNO’s bi-cultural model and walks the talk of tikanga in her work every day.

On Friday and Saturday last week I attended the NZNO and Te Rūnanaga o Aotearoa, NZNO Indigenous Nurses Conference in Tāmaki Makaurau.

It was amazing, truly amazing. How can I explain? For me it was like my korowai hugging me; with each feather symbolising my tipuna and every single person present at the hui. I feel quite emotional about the experience, still. There aren’t many times I can really connect like that with my people.

It’s the best two days I have had in a long time. I was lucky to be able to attend as an NZNO Māori staff member and to catch up with two of my colleagues at the hui too, from Rotorua and Tauranga. Kia ora sisters! Thank you for going on this journey with me.

There were over 300 Māori health workers at the conference and I noticed that many young nurses, students and new grads found the whanaungatanga really beneficial, in terms of building relationships with other nurses and their connection to NZNO and Te Rūnanga.

There were wonderful speakers. A couple of presentations that really moved me were by Dr Misty Wilkie-Condif, and Janine Mohamed and Dr Roianne West.

Dr Misty Wilkie-Condif is an American Indian of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. She talked about how similar American Indian practices are to Maori tikanga, for example both Maori and American Indians place great importance on leaving this earth with our full physical bodies in place.

One way that is encouraged to happen in the American Indian communities where Dr Misty works is led by midwives.

Community midwives go out and all around the villages talking to hapū wahine and new mamas. When pēpe is born part of the midwives job is to make sure the whenua is wrapped and ready to go home with the mamas for burial.

This deep connection between our culture and the American Indian culture is special.

The other presentation that has stayed with me was by our sisters from across the ditch. Janine Mohamed is a Narrunga Kaurna woman from South Australia and Roianne West was born and raised Kalkadoon on her mother’s country in North-West Queensland.

They were representing an organisation that travels out through the outback encouraging young people to become nurses.

They say they need the new generation to be educated as nurses so they can look after the elders who are suffering from diabetes and other diseases relating to their poverty and colonisation.

It’s a kaupapa based on whanau and community.

For me the hui left me with a feeling of positive-ness. As Māori we have had a hard road culturally and because of colonisation. It was wonderful to see so much work happening to fix the structural discriminations and improve the health of my people.

My message to our rūnanga throughout NZNO is: stay true to your tikanga and never forget that your tipuna are always with you and have your back.

To end this article I would like to share something that keynote speaker Moana Jackson said. “If we don’t know who we are, we won’t know where we’ve come from or where we’re going.”

Mauri ora!