Māori health provider nurses praised for care of whānau Māori - Covid-19

By Wena Harawira

Māori health provider nurses are being praised for their work to care for Māori families during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the NZ Nurses Organisation is concerned about the hazards they face as frontline workers.

In the first weeks of the pandemic, Māori health provider nurses were on the ball.

"They were really going hard you know, they were going out there, they were doing all that they can do and they had a real whānau lense on the way they were doing things," NZ Nurses Organisation Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says.

But resourcing is still slow, including protective clothing for Māori health provider nurses. 

"That flow down through to the nurses in the community, primary health care, age care. that seems to be a problem at this moment.

"We've heard out of Italy, the frontline workers within the first two weeks were not using PPE gear when they were doing some of that swabbing and testing and then consequently we saw a spike in the amount of rates coming out of Italy."

Nuku says these are the hazards facing frontline nurses.

"It really makes you humble when you realise that even though they're being paid twenty-five percent less than their colleagues, they don't have the resources we do in the comfort of a DHB, they're still going hard and putting their lives at risk by making sure other whānau's lives are ok."

Nuku hopes that once the pandemic ends, the government will remember its designation of nurses as essential workers.

"We don't just want to slip back into our quiet little world where we have to keep banging on our message and our value. We want that recognised, we want to feel valued."