Nursing student recognised for contribution to Māori health

For third-year BNurs student Tumanako Bidois (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Whāoa, Ngāti Tahu), it’s a no-brainer that we need to nurture and leverage the relationship between the health workforce and hauora Māori (Māori wellbeing).

Tamara Thomason-Tata, Tracy Black and Tumanako Bidois at the Tapuhi Kaitiaki Awards

“I believe nursing or any health profession that works closely with the Hauora of Māori people has both the ability and responsibility to reduce health inequities among Māori here in Aotearoa,” she says. “This is an ongoing issue for New Zealand and recognition of these differences in health outcomes is only the first step.”

Tumanako has been recognised at the second annual PHARMAC Tapuhi Kaitiaki Awards. She was one of five recipients sharing a $10,000 prize in the Māori Nurse Mātauranga category. The award recognises nurses and tauira (students) who wish to further their study and/or develop an innovative way to help whanau, hapū and iwi access and understand their medicines.

Two of the other recipients, Tracy Black (Ngai Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Whakatohea) and Tamara Thomason-Tata (Rongowhakaata), recommended that Tumanako apply for this award. As the Chair and Vice Chair of Te Runanga Tauira, the Māori branch of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s National Student Unit, they have been vital supporting Tumanako and driving her ambitions to improve the health of Aotearoa.

The online application process involved writing an essay about how applicants intended to use their careers in order to advance the health of Māori whānau. For Tumanako, the answer lay in her upbringing.

Creating an environment in the health sector where Māori feel their values are being acknowledged will improve health access and health outcomes.

Tumanako Bidois Bachelor of Nursing student

“I grew up in Te Ao Māori and this foundation has provided me with the opportunity to incorporate tikanga (traditional customs), Te Reo Māori and kawa whakaruruhau (cultural safety) into my future care as a health professional. Creating an environment in the health sector where Māori feel their values are being acknowledged will improve health access and health outcomes.”

The award night took place on 11 August at Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland’s Pullman Hotel at the end of the full-day Indigenous Nurses Aotearoa Conference. An evening of kai, formalities, and dancing, Tumanako says she couldn’t have picked a better atmosphere in which to receive her award.

With one award already under her belt, what will be next for Tumanako once she graduates at the end of the year? “At this point, my area of interest is everywhere and anywhere to do with Māori… Bettering the care received by our whānau and iwi across Aotearoa [is] important for Māori, and therefore it is important to me.”