Co-leadership nurses to address Māori health inequity

By Hannah Bodger-Kearns

Two new nurse directors at Starship Child health will be helping to address health inequity for Māori by championing Māori health and leading Te Tiriti across nursing, as the paediatric health provider ushers in a new nursing model.

Hera Watkinson (Starship nurse director, tangata whenua) and Romana Raby (Starship nurse director, tangata tiriti) were welcomed to their new roles in a ceremony yesterday at Manawanaui Marae in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Over 50% of the Starship workforce are nurses, and the incoming nurse directors will have influence within Starship as well as across child health nationally. 

Starship says the Te Tiriti-based co-directorship is a first in nursing history and leads the way for mokopuna-centric, whānau-focused and whānau-led healthcare.

Starship community service clinical director Jo Peterson says the move is a direct solution to health inequity for Māori.

She says the co-leadership will ensure equal decision-making, mandate power sharing and ensure the interest of Māori communities are at the forefront.

Transforming colonial health structure

“Shared decision making in clinical settings makes space to uphold mātauranga Māori alongside traditional medical models, ultimately resulting in clinical care which meets whānau where they are.”

The appointments form part of a suite of co-leadership appointments within the organisation, with Starship also having appointed a Māori director into Starship Community and Te Puaruruhau who sit alongside the service clinical director.

Te Tumu Whakarae o Starship (Māori health director) Toni Shepherd says that actualising equity through shared decision-making is well overdue

“The colonial health structures of Aotearoa require radical transformation to dismantle the inequities prevalent in child Health.

 “Co-directorship within child health is an opportunity to realise Te Tiriti in action and, ultimately, we need to re-imagine a child healthcare system that is mokopuna-centric, whānau-focused and whānau-led.”