By: Lydia Mains, Pūkenga Kaiwhakahaere/Site Manager - Motueka
and Sonny Alesana, Te Pou Taki/Cultural Advisor
Pacific blue, frangipani, gardenia, lei, hula, smiley people, scooters, free range chooks, united approach to nursing.... (don't mention health and safety) where else… but the Cook Islands!
The South Pacific Nurses forum was held in the idyllic home of our ancestors, Rarotonga. This bi-annual event has been an opportunity to share relevant nursing knowledge and findings that are original, culturally rich which can be applied to other Pacific countries. This forum aims to highlight and advance nursing practice in the Pacific Island nations.
The forum ran from Mon 15th through to the 18th October. There were 43 presentations in total and covered themes of nursing practice including midwifery.
Sonny and I presented on Te Piki Oranga structure and model of care which is based on our Māori values. This highlighted the strength we have as an organisation and as Māori about how advanced and developed we are in comparison to our more isolated, demographically challenged Pacific brothers and sisters!
We presented a case study on our Podiatry Clinic which drew a lot of interest from nurses. The Vanuatu Nurses Association and Te Piki Oranga are investigating ways that we can share knowledge that Te Piki Oranga has gained from running podiatry clinics. Amputations from diabetes complications is one of the most pressing health issues in Vanuatu.
We took the opportunity to visit Takitumu Primary School in Rarotonga and during our visit we were able to look at their Oral Health Project and discovered that they needed toothbrushes and toothpaste. We were able to courier toothbrushes and toothpaste to the school on our return to Nelson.
This was a very humbling experience and being immersed in the Pacific culture gives a richness to practice as you experience first-hand the challenges and the reality of practicing in an environment with a shortage of health professionals, resources compounded by undeveloped infrastructure i.e fresh running and drinkable water, this is their reality in which Islanders face daily.
I ‘d like to finish by saying; stepping off the tarmac into Rarotonga whenua in October you are fragrantly welcomed and serenaded by waiata and ukuleles playing which showcases the Pacific at it's beautiful best!