First-year Whitireia Māori nursing students connect with their community to make a difference

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Whitireia is offering first-year nursing students in the Bachelor of Nursing Māori programme the chance to make a real difference and gain clinical experience within their community through hands-on training in different community situations, with an overview of Kaupapa Māori. 


“The placements allow students to engage in their communities and improve their clinical skills in the process.” Jodi Bishop (Ngāti Toa Rangatira), tutor for Bachelor of Nursing Māori says.

Nursing tutors at Whitireia used their community networks to find placements for their students and now have organisations coming to them asking if they can take part. They have worked with the likes of social housing providers, the Māori Cancer Community Authority, Mahi Toa, and the Iwi Chairs Forum.

Deni Tipene, a mother of two from Te Āti Awa, is retraining as a nurse in order to follow her passion. She is in her first year of a Bachelor of Nursing Māori at Whitireia, which she says has been excellent as it allows her to learn more about her Māori heritage while learning clinical skills.

Deni explains how her placements at the Te Āhuru Mōwai kotahitanga whanau day and at the New Zealand TeleHealth Forum have been incredibly valuable. “They have helped me realise the importance of the disparities we face in health today and reminded me why I’m studying to become a nurse,” she says.

During these community placements, the students perform blood pressure checks and connect with members of the community. As a result, the students can understand the health issues facing the community and show them that healthcare workers are approachable. 

“The community is more engaged and curious, and they are thinking more about their health. For example, when getting their blood pressure checked, people will ask what it means if it’s high and sometimes even discuss booking an appointment with their nurse or doctor to get it checked,” Deni says. 

Another student benefiting from these community placements is Maia Douglas-Baker of Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Te Āti Awa. Maia comes from a family of healers and was encouraged to study nursing by her mum, who is in her third year of a Bachelor of Nursing Māori at Whitireia.


Whitireia Bachelor of Nursing Māori student Maia Douglas-Baker

Maia has just completed an eight-week placement at a Kohanga Reo where she was practising child development skills by observing the kids and aspects of their lives, such as their diets. Maia didn’t just gain clinical experience during this placement; she was also able to improve her te reo knowledge.

“At the Kohanaga Reo, you can only speak te reo in front of the kids, and I’m not fluent, so the kids would help by teaching me. My mum and koro are fluent in te reo, so it was great being able to take what I learnt back home to my whānau,” says Maia.

Next semester, the Whitireia Bachelor of Nursing Māori students will have placements at aged care facilities to further develop their clinical skills and gain real-life experience whilst making a difference.

 Further information on Bachelor of Nursing Māori

The Bachelor of Nursing Māori uses theoretical and clinical learning to support Māori students to become registered nurses, capable of working in numerous multicultural settings.

The programme uses a distinct Māori pedagogy that encapsulates whānau, hāpu and iwi ways of knowing. The programme draws on both Māori and tau iwi body of knowledge that enhances ākonga learning and contributes to the graduate being competent and safe to practice in their communities and communities around the world.