Be the Change – The Gisborne Herald
Tell the full and true story.
More than a century after its debut, Plunket is returning to its bicultural roots, promising to provide fairer and more Maori-respectful service. Andrew Ashton talks to Amanda Malu, Managing Director of Whānau Āwhina Plunket, about what it will mean for new mothers here. . .
New mothers using Plunket services will find that the association is now more bicultural and determined to ensure that the achievements and experiences of women and Māori wāhine do not disappear from the official record.
The new focus of the service follows a five-year review which found that in Whānau Āwhina Plunket’s 114 years, his own narrative too often overlooked or portrayed Maori wahine as spectators of history.
However, he is now setting the record straight.
“The truth is, if it weren’t for two Maori midwives and healers – Mere Harper and Ria Tikini – and the patronage and support of Lady Victoria Plunket, Whānau Āwhina Plunket wouldn’t be here today. ‘hui,’ said CEO Amanda Malu.
“It has long been understood that Dr Frederic Truby King single-handedly created the organization that has been helping tamariki and whānau across New Zealand for 114 years. But that’s only half the story.
“Mere Harper and Ria Tikini were both of Kāi Tahu and Kāti Huirapa descent and often worked closely with their friend and neighbor, Dr. King, to care for the sick in their community. They were also among the first medical professionals to work at Karitāne Home for Babies when it opened in Dunedin in 1907. It was Mere and Ria who helped deliver Tommy Mutu in 1906 – and whose concerns led them to seek the support of Dr King. to restore her strength when breastfeeding problems made her lose weight and felt unwell. Tommy has always been known as the first Plunket baby.
“The story of Whānau Āwhina Plunket that most of us know is – like much of Aotearoa’s history – incomplete at best, misleading and incorrect at worst. Stories have been told, but not the whole story.
“This made these founding wāhine toa invisible, and the bicultural origins of Whānau Āwhina Plunket were forgotten.
“Whānau Āwhina Plunket is on a journey to recover his whakapapa; to fulfill Mere Harper and RiaTikini’s legacy by tracing back to her bicultural origins, ensuring equitable health outcomes for all whānau. Mere and Ria reached out to form a partnership to get the best results for their pēpi and whānau. They focused on the needs of their whānau and built a system of collaboration and support around them. For Whānau Āwhina Plunket, and for Aotearoa, it is time to return to these foundations.
“By recognizing and embracing our bicultural origins, Whānau Āwhina Plunket creates a shared space and strives to become a truly bicultural organization that honors Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Whānau Āwhina Plunket is becoming what we have always been meant to be: an organization that partners with whānau, is helpful and does not judge, is courageous and thoughtful, and optimistic for the future, ”said Ms Malu .
Speaking to the Herald, Ms Malu said the charity is firmly committed to providing services in a “fairer way.”
This meant that changes had to be made.
“I think it’s fair enough to say that we’re taking our first steps. We have worked a lot on ourselves.
“One of the first things we did was really look back, all the way we started in Karitane and we traced the full and true story of our genesis and that was very important because this that we discovered when we looked back was in fact, in 1907, we were quite a different organization. Our very roots were in biculturalism, partnership and collaboration, but over the years we have lost that a bit. .
“So it was really important to recognize that and part of it was telling this story of Mere Harper and Ria Tikini very proudly.”
A charity “ready to be held to account”
Ms Malu said the charity was prepared to be held accountable.
“We want to do things differently and we invite people to hold us to account. Over the next six to 12 months, we intend to really engage with iwi in a more formal way, through our board, and to have these conversations. “
She said the changes were aimed at supporting Maori suppliers, rather than competing with them.
“When Maori choose our service, we want to make sure they’re getting the best service we can give them – and if we don’t, we want to hear about it.
“It’s interesting that almost half of all Maori babies are born each year, so we are already seeing a significant number of them and that in itself is really important because there is an obligation to be there and to do better. “
At the same time, a significant number of whānau have not benefited from the Whanau Awhina Plunket service nor have they consulted with a tamariki ora supplier.
“I think the tamariki ora system being more collaborative and integrated, I hope that fewer Maori will miss a service.”
It would really change the experience for whānau, she said.
“One of the key things we’ve worked on is educating our entire workforce and it’s a professional and personal journey.
“Each of our employees takes a series of online modules that we call ‘Being a Better Treaty Partner’. It’s absolutely designed to provide a more truthful education on the history of New Zealand, from pre-colonization until today, and the impact that has had on whānau Maori.
“It’s about raising awareness, so that they can see another worldview and understand why it’s important when as a nurse with a family, it’s really important to recognize that worldview. .
“We really care about making sure that the very first engagement is the one that is infused with tikanga.
“What we want to see is that mothers are heard and listened to and can talk with their Nurse Plunket about what to expect, rather than what we’re here to do.”
For Gisborne and the east coast, the charity would build on already good relationships with suppliers of tamariki ora. He had also just installed a new Maori nurse in Wairoa.
“We are really building our core service and making sure it is more responsive and more connected to other services in the region.
“I think it’s really important that we don’t duplicate the services that already exist.
“This is a work in progress and we are very keen to continue these conversations. Our field staff are really ready for it.
“For us, what’s important is that people understand that we want to work differently. We are committed to putting results first for Maori whānau and that means we do things differently, both in working with Maori, but also in the way we might work with other families.
Gisborne Clinical Manager Vicki Lidington said Whānau Āwhina Plunket is still working on what our service delivery will look like in the years to come and aims to deliver all of its services equitably by 2025.
“We have a strategy that provides a roadmap for equity and guides our responsiveness to whānau Māori.
“In Gisborne we have a very experienced team with good connections to all of our local community organizations. Our nurses have excellent relationships with all health care providers, and they work closely with these services to ensure that our whānau can get any extra support they may need.
“One of the ways we have worked with other local organizations is to support the Tauawhi Tairāwhiti Men’s Center and Wairua Ora Hei Tū Tangata on the Pāpāwhāriki hui, which celebrates dads and their tamariki. So we’re looking at all of those social and cultural needs, as well as health support.
“We also have two kaiawhina within our team who provide the ability to connect with our services in a culturally appropriate manner. They know our local iwi and Maori health groups and can help whānau connect with local Maori support. It is about providing a service appropriate to what our whānau need, and our kaiawhina provide this comprehensive service in a whānau-led manner.
“Our kaiawhina provide the opportunity to establish whakawhanaungatanga with our whānau and to truly create a personal relationship. It’s a warm and welcoming introduction to our services, and our whānau are really happy to have someone make that connection with them. It’s a very transparent and personal way to welcome them to Whānau Āwhina Plunket and let them know how we can help them at a very special time in their life.
FRONT AND CENTER: Plunket Gisborne Staff Jelaire Poi (Plunket kaiawhina), Kaye Foreman (Nurse Plunket), Joanne Quin (Nurse Plunket), Mana Bradley (Plunket kaiawhina), Vanessa Robertson (Nurse Plunket) and Abi Douglas (Nurse Plunket). Photo by Liam Clayton
FRONTING UP: Plunket Managing Director Amanda Malu Photo provided
TO BE SEEN: Mere Harper and Ria Tikini, the founding wahine toa of Plunket. Photo provided
First Plunket premises in Karitane, Dunedin, in 1907.