Call for social work to be ‘decolonised’

Source: Massey University


Dr Paulē Ruwhiu recently graduated with a PhD from Massey University.


A Massey University researcher is calling for social work education in Aotearoa New Zealand to be decolonised. Social work lecturer Dr Paulè Ruwhiu, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, has just completed her PhD research into the process of decolonisation and the experiences of Māori social workers and Māori social work students.

Dr Ruwhiu says current programmes focus on western models, with Māori content as a curriculum add-on. “I’ve got no problems teaching the western models, but I do have a problem when I can’t see my own culture in the courses delivered, particularly when social workers will go out to communities where the service users are mainly Māori and Pasifika.”

She would like to see decolonisation topics, such as historical discourses, racism, privilege and cultural dominance, feature in degree courses so students can be aware of their own cultural positioning and how it affects the way they work with clients. She would also like to encourage Māori models of practice, Māori principles and experiential learning through noho marae.

“What I found is that we are too busy talking about the impacts of colonisation, which creates a deficit focus for Māori as the oppressed, with an emphasis on how Māori can work with Pākehā, not the other way around.”

She says Pākehā also need to face themselves and work through what their obligations and responsibilities are in Aotearoa New Zealand under te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“You need to know who you are before you work with others – that’s our social work mantra. You’ve got to be comfortable in who you are.” 

The importance of identity is something Dr Ruwhiu knows first-hand. It was when she came to study at Massey University that she started to explore her own Māori heritage. She saw a lot of self-identity issues with tangata whaiora (clients) when working in Māori mental health and then, as a lecturer, found many students were disconnected from their culture.

A decolonisation process for students is the first in a three-tier change framework Dr Ruwhiu has developed in her thesis. The second tier is around education and practice in social work so that western and tangata whenua or indigenous models work together in a parallel curriculum. The third focuses on policy and lays a challenge to the Social Workers Registration Board. “We need to have the registration board as role models in leading decolonisation frameworks within our profession,” she says.

The current process to be registered as a social worker in Aotearoa New Zealand requires a written application proving you understand three Māori principles, but Dr Ruwhiu says this is not a tangata whenua process.

“We’re face-to-face people, so writing on a piece of paper, ‘This is how I work with tangata whenua’, is not a fair process for everyone. A fair process requires a kanohi ki te kanohi [face to face] situation.”

She says recent challenges to Oranga Tamariki indicate Māori are no longer prepared to accept the status quo and she believes the process of decolonisation needs to be a central tenet in the social work profession to move forward in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Head of Massey University’s Social Work School Associate Professor Kieran O’Donoghue says Dr Ruwhiu’s work will provide much-needed guidance for training future generations.

“The decolonisation process for Māori social workers and Māori social work students developed by Dr Ruwhiu is an outstanding and needed contribution for indigenous social work internationally. It also provides a map for the transformation of the social work profession and how we educate social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand over the next decade.”

Social work students honoured with awards

Source: Massey University


Sunny Song was presented the Te Tohu Iti Kahurangi Award.


Massey University’s School of Social Work recently acknowledged three of its top students from the Auckland Campus at the inaugural Student Social Work Awards.

Sunny Song was presented with the Te Tohu Iti Kahurangi Award, which recognises high academic achievement, exemplary field education practice, cultural practice and resolving an ethical or values-related challenge during their study or placement.

Unlike the other two awards, the winner of this accolade is nominated by fellow students. 

Miss Song, a fourth-year Bachelor of Social Work student says being recognised by her peers was humbling. “I still vividly remember the day I received my nomination. It meant a lot to me, particularly as an immigrant with a language barrier, studying in later age and as a mother of two children.  

“I hope by winning this award that I can be a role model for anyone who is interested in studying but may be hesitant because of barriers like age, language or may lack the confidence.”

She says while studying social work has extended her knowledge and ability to see issues from different perspectives, the most important element was developing good team work practices, which helps to navigate challenges when difficult situations arise.

Miss Song was awarded $500.

Jacqueline Henry received the Academic Excellence Award.


Academic Excellence Award

Fourth-year Bachelor of Social Work Student Jacqueline Henry was awarded the Academic Excellence Award, which recognises academic excellence by a third or fourth-year Social Work Student.

She says she feels very fortunate to have received this award and studying social work has allowed her to learn a lot about herself and her learning style, which she really values.

“I’ve found each and every one of the papers so important in forming my practice, from the theories and models to the policies and bicultural practice, and everything in between. It’s important that we celebrate the achievements of our future social workers and fellow students. Everything we learn shapes us as practitioners and so it will all ultimately trickle back down to the people and groups we support.”

Nominations for the award were sought from Auckland campus social work and social policy staff. Miss Henry was awarded $250.

Rumbi Mutukumira received the Social Work Practice Award


Social Work Practice Award

Rumbi Mutukumira was awarded the Social Work Practice Award, in recognition of her high practice standard, competence and her contribution to the field. Nominations for the award were sought from field educators, external supervisors, placement agency staff and service users. Students were also able to self-nominate.

Miss Mutukumira says studying social work has helped her to become more confident in herself personally and professionally. “Social work is a diverse career, it is not only rewarding but you also learn a lot about yourself along the way. I would recommend to other students to surround yourself with a good support system and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Create self-care anchors and work these into your routine.”

Miss Mutukumira was awarded $250.

The journey to level 10 without one, two and three

Source: Massey University

Dr Jeremy Hapeta graduated with his doctorate in November.


PhD graduate Dr Jeremy Hapeta, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Huia, says he became a “brain surgeon” straight out of school – in the offal room of a Levin abattoir.

After leaving Manawatū College with no qualifications, he spent two years working there, but dreamt of a university education. He says the role taught him transferable skills that helped to shape his future – early start times at 5am and a strong work ethic. He demonstrated resilience to persevere through two unsuccessful attempts to attend university before turning 20, and was eventually accepted as a “second-chance” learner into the Bachelor of Education programme. 

Today, Dr Hapeta is a physical education lecturer at Massey University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition. Over six years, part-time, he has worked towards his PhD investigating the inclusion of Māori culture when developing rugby team culture. He also explored the impact of these inclusive (or exclusionary) practices on wellbeing for rugby players, coaches and administrators.

A former professional rugby player in New Zealand, Japan, France and Italy, he looks back at his time at secondary school and wishes he had applied the same grit and determination to his studies as he did crafting his sport skills. He hopes his “non-traditional” pathway to gaining his PhD can inspire others to achieve academic success if they put their minds to it.

“It is the end of a long journey; it is extremely satisfying for me, my wife, our two children and wider whānau,” he says.

Dr Hapeta with his whānau at graduation in Manawatū.

“I wish I had made the connection earlier that everything I was doing in sport, those skills and tools, could be applied to my school work. But getting my PhD demonstrates that just because I skipped a few steps in terms of gaining high school qualifications, it does not necessarily mean the doors are closed to higher education.

“I didn’t receive the equivalent of NCEA level one, two or three, but here I am with level 10.”

Māori tradition in sport development

Dr Hapeta’s interest in his PhD topic began when he noticed Māori culture being increasingly incorporated into the development of sport teams. He was interested in the impact this was having on wellbeing for the people involved, both Māori and non-Māori.

His research led him to work with the Bay of Plenty Steamers, Taranaki Rugby’s Māori and Pasifika Rugby Academy (MPRA) and the New Zealand Māori U18s team, where he studied their approaches to cultural inclusion. The different ages and ethnicities of focus groups meant his research came from multiple perspectives.

He says, at times, he was surprised at the impact Māori traditions had for non-Māori players. For example, the Steamers undertook an exercise where the team had to research the various maunga within the Bay of Plenty region so they understood the geographic area they were representing.

“It quite literally grounded the players and gave them a sense of belonging. It was a really inclusive initiative that made people feel like they were a part of something much bigger.”

This process was not focused on performance-based outcomes, but the team’s leadership recognised the benefits of getting the off-the-field elements right.

“What stood out to me was their recognition of building solid foundations. They thought, ‘If we grow and nourish this side of the team and their connection to where they are playing, and allow it to flourish, some of the fruits this process will bear are strong outcomes.’ In one interview a coach even talked about being a better dad at home to his teenaged children”.

And their off-field pillars appear to have paid off on-field with this change in direction. The Bay of Plenty Steamers went from last placed in 2013 and 2014 to winning the Mitre 10 Championship in 2019 and gaining promotion to the Premiership for the 2020 season.

A traditional approach to research

Hapeta’s research utilised an approach known as pūrākau, or traditional narratives and storytelling, which acknowledges the past, present and future.

“In Te Ao Māori we walk ‘backwards’ into our future. We stare at our past, something that is known, as we walk towards the unknown future. This is what I would like to think my PhD contribution makes, it is about putting a pou or peg into the ground now so that we can progress and move forwards into a more culturally inclusive future. I hope the findings of my research might inform why and how Māori practices can be used to develop team culture.

He says working with the younger men who were part of the MPRA academy provided fascinating insights into their future aspirations, which were not centred around playing rugby professionally.

“What the academy was doing wasn’t about rugby, it was actually about life skills. Their second-chance learners weren’t treated like athletes, they were treated as people and rugby was the vehicle used to embed values into them like respect, forgiveness and work ethic. Many youth spoke of future aspirations like building their own home and furniture. One was returning to mainstream school so he could do his building apprenticeship, the majority of others exited into employment.”

Inspiring others to further their education 

Dr Hapeta hopes his story may inspire people of different ages and backgrounds and that his research will contribute to positive Māori stories.

“I’d like my research to reaffirm our cultural identity, increasing the mana of Māori and serve as a catalyst for other groups to recognise the value and potential that they could tap into.”

His advice for current students, or those considering studying but are hesitant to? Just do it.

“I hope in some small way I might provide an example that you don’t need to be a genius or rocket scientist to walk across the stage and get your degree, if I can do it, anyone can.

“And don’t be disheartened by setbacks. If I had listened to and accepted my first two rejection letters, I would not have applied a third time (lucky). It took me six years of part-time study to do this PhD. It was a struggle and didn’t come easily and that’s okay too.”

Spotlight on student research at sport conference

Source: Massey University


The conference explored the latest research across topics including high performance sport, medicine and rehabilitation.


Professor Narihiko of Kobe University in Japan was one of the keynote speakers.

How athletes can beat the heat in Tokyo to exploring the effects of a menstrual cycle phase on female rugby athletes’ physical performance and iron status, were among the research topics explored at the recent Sport and Exercise Science New Zealand Conference.

The annual conference was hosted at Massey University’s Manawatū campus and attended by more than 120 academics, researchers and students from around New Zealand and the world. They were also joined by trainers from the New Zealand Defence Force, Police and high-performance sports organisations.

Focusing on emerging research and showcasing the work and findings of students, topics included high performance sport, coaching, physiology, strength and conditioning, nutrition and metabolism and sports medicine and rehabilitation.

“It is so important to bring researchers and students together to share ideas, collaborate and inspire the sports scientists of the future,” says School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition head of school Associate Professor Andy Foskett.

“We are proud to showcase our expertise, capabilities and capacity in sports exercise science through this conference and bring leading researchers from around the world to further attendees’ knowledge.”

Global perspectives

Chair of the Athletics Integrity Unit David Howman was the conference’s first keynote speaker.

Mr Howman, former director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, gave a global perspective of some of the major challenges threatening the integrity of sport, from doping to bribery and corruption, match fixing and more.

“These issues deplete the value of sport and we need to realise how these areas are being attacked internationally,” Mr Howman says.

“We have an opportunity as New Zealanders to lead in the area of sports integrity. We are known globally for our good reputation, for saying it how it is. We do not have an agenda and we as a country and people can play a leading role maintaining sport integrity, internationally.”

The following international keynote speakers were brought to the conference with support from conference sponsors.

  • David Howman CNZM chair of the Athletics Integrity Unit (IAAF)
  • Research Associate Professor Jason Lee Yong Loo Lin – School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
  • Professor Narihiko Kondo, Kobe University
  • Distinguished Professor Aaron Coutts, University of Technology Sydney
  • Dr Andy Cooke Bangor, University Wales

Understanding malnutrition in vulnerable older New Zealanders

Source: Massey University

The qualitative study explores the perspectives and experiences of older New Zealanders’ food intake to understand factors that can lead to malnutrition.

The qualitative study, Eating less the logical thing to do? Vulnerability to malnutrition with advancing age, was recently published in the international research journal Appetite. It was completed by researchers at Massey’s School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, led by Associate Professor Carol Wham.

The research explores the perspectives and experiences of older New Zealanders’ food intake to understand factors that may lead to malnutrition.

“We know there is a problem with malnutrition among vulnerable older people who live in their own homes and this study goes some way to understanding this in more detail so we can begin to plan and implement strategies to address the problem.”

Some participants reported they probably ate only half of what they had eaten in the past. Almost all participants ate less because they thought it was the logical thing to do given that they undertake less physical activity. Their low appetites mean they rarely feel hungry and many regarded eating as a chore. While being around others encouraged eating, if someone was caring for a sick spouse, or were in a stressful situation, this reduced their appetite too.

Many were conscious of healthy eating and were focused on consuming more vegetables, while reducing their fat and sugar intake. Several said they had a preference for food they had grown up with, but could no longer readily access, or needed to avoid particular foods because of illnesses, food intolerance and chewing difficulties.

Dr Wham says not eating enough food is a challenge to maintaining a healthy weight, especially when multiple factors combine like illness, reduced mobility and barriers such as not having access to preferred foods. Weight loss leads to a loss of muscle mass and strength and problems associated with frailty. 

“Participants were purposively selected to represent ethnic diversity and on the basis of presence or absence of chronic conditions. Several respondents had multiple conditions such as hypertension, arthritis, gout, high blood sugar or cholesterol; most identified as having an illness severity of moderate or severe.”

The majority of participants took more than five medications and most were identified to be either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. Previous studies have reported that about one in three older New Zealanders living in the community are at risk of malnutrition.

Evidence suggests peer volunteers trained to perform strength exercises and have nutrition-related discussions can help reduce malnutrition risk and improve frailty among community-dwelling older adults.

Dr Wham says identifying those who are at risk of malnutrition is an important first step. Then, people’s vulnerability to malnutrition can be reduced through focusing on individual perceptions and behaviours.

The study showed improving physical function among vulnerable older adults may be paramount in preventing decreased food intake, while encouraging appetising energy drinks or snacks could also help. Social support to maintain the health and resilience of older carers is also critical to ensuring their eating habits aren’t compromised while caring for a spouse. Caregivers play an important role but they need to receive health and nutrition training.

“Given New Zealand’s ageing population and encouragement for older people to live in their own homes as long as possible, it is an increasingly important challenge to overcome,” Dr Wham says. “It’s about increasing older people’s quality of life, of which nutrition play an important part.”

The research was undertaken by PhD student Idah Chatindiara from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition as part of her doctorate evaluating nutrition risk and intervening to encourage healthy eating.

Same mistakes being made in the Kiwi diet

Source: Massey University


Below: Professor Jane Coad will present the prestigious Muriel Bell Lecture at the Nutrition Society of New Zealand’s Annual Scientific Conference.


 

The average New Zealander is making the same mistakes with their diet 50 years on, according to a Massey University professor in nutrition.

Professor Jane Coad of Massey University’s School of Food and Advanced Technology will explore New Zealand’s past in nutrition and how it can help to plan for the future when she presents the prestigious Muriel Bell public lecture at the Nutrition Society of New Zealand’s Annual Scientific Conference in Napier this week.

Muriel Bell was a renowned nutritionist and medical researcher who qualified at the beginning of the 20th century when nutrition was in its infancy, and people were just learning about vitamins and the importance of nutrition for health.

Professor Coad’s presentation will be a nod to Bell’s work as she examines where the nation is heading.

In a book published by Bell in 1969, she noted the mistakes New Zealanders were making in their diet.

“The average New Zealander continues to eat too much sugar, cakes, biscuits and confectionary, which contributes to people’s weight gain, dental decay and is an aggravating factor in coronary heart disease. Other mistakes are the consumption of too much butter, fat and cream, eating more meat than is necessary, and not enough eggs, cheese, raw fruits and vegetables.”

Fast-forward 50 years and Professor Coad says very little has changed.

Coad will analyse why New Zealand continues to face similar problems around nutrition as well as what lies ahead. She says one of the biggest current challenges is the disconnect between food production and nutrition.

She says New Zealand is often motivated by the price of food exports, not their nutritional value, which needs to change.

“We focus on the dollar-value of nutrition-related exports and we don’t give enough emphasis on the nutrient value of the food we produce.”

She uses the production of ice cream as an example.

“If you make ice cream and want to make it cheaper, you reduce the amount of fruit and increase the amount of sugar. That reduces the cost of production and increases the profit margin, but we need to think about the value of food in more than just a monetary sense.”

She says the world’s rising population will be another focus of her presentation and the conference.

“Although there have been extraordinary changes in the production and consumption of food over recent years, we face environmental pressures whilst the global population and consequent demand for food are increasing to unparalleled levels.”

“The global expansion of ‘big food,’ the increasing power of huge multinational food companies, has created tension between the food industry and those promoting better health.”

She says the role of a nutritionist has never been more important. Today, professionals need a broader skill set, including the ability to translate and communicate complex science ideas to the general public in a way that will reach people and can be understood. This is crucial given the mass of information available, which varies in quality and credibility.

For more information on the Nutrition Society Conference, click here.

Doctoral breakfast connects student researchers with business community

Source: Massey University


Charline Lormand (left), Ellie Bradley, Akisi Ravono.


Kauri dieback, diabetes and dangerous volcanoes were three research topics served up by Massey University doctoral students at a breakfast in Palmerston North this week.

The breakfast, a collaboration between the University and Manawatū business-education promotion organisation Talent Central, is an annual event to connect students with the Manawatū business community.

Talent Central chief executive Margaret Kouvelis describes it as “an opportunity for business people to discover the talent that can be harnessed to add value to the Manawatū’s economic, environmental and social wellbeing”.

The students outlined their research findings and the potential impact of their work.

Some of the attendees of the Massey University and Talent Central doctoral breakfast.


Doctorate topics

Charline Lormand  – Predicting volcanic eruptions

How much time do we have before the volcano erupts? That’s the question PhD student Charline Lormand is trying to answer through her research. She has investigated the make-up of 60,000 micrometre-sized crystals within volcanic rocks called microlites to try to unlock the answer. 

The time it takes microlites to form, when they form and the depth at which they form within the volcano is what holds the clue to better understanding when a volcano is likely to erupt, Ms Lormand says.

Her aim is to provide communities and emergency response organisations with information on when people need to be evacuated.

Ms Lormand’s research has taken her around the world, from her home in France to Iceland and Japan. Studying with the School of Agriculture and Environment and Volcanic Risk Solutions Group, her PhD is focused on the Tongariro Volcanic Centre near the active volcanoes Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.  

Ellie Bradley – Saving ancient kauri

Kauri dieback disease is threatening one of New Zealand’s most ancient and treasured tree species. While there is no known cure for the disease, Ellie Bradley hopes her PhD, through the School of Agriculture and Environment, may help.

Ms Bradley uses molecular biology techniques to better understand the relationship between the pathogen and the tree. Her aim is to identify important molecules from the pathogen that activate the plant immune system, with the goal of using this information to inform durable disease resistance programmes in kauri.

Akisi Ravono – Developing ideal diabetes care

Akisi Ravono is a registered nurse who is two years into her PhD with Massey’s College of Health investigating what patients and nurses describe as the ideal nursing care for patients living with diabetes and associated conditions. 

Her research is based on focus group discussions, interviews and field observations with patients and nurses in Fiji, with a focus on iTaukei, the indigenous people of Fiji, where a third of the adult population has diabetes.Learning from their experiences and taking into account cultural traditions such as not questioning the decisions of medical professionals, Ms Ravono aims to improve nursing care for diabetic patients and shift towards a more preventive approach to reducing life-threatening situations and associated conditions.

Pacific diabetes study leads to $125k grant

Source: Massey University


PhD student Gavin Faeamani will develop a diabestes prevention programme specifically for Pacific peoples.


A Massey University student has been awarded a $125,790 Pacific Health Research PhD Scholarship from the Health Research Council to investigate reducing diabetes and cardio-vascular disease rates among Pacific communities.

Gavin Faeamani, a research coordinator with The Fono’s Pasifika Pre-Diabetes Youth Empowerment Programme, will use the grant to develop a culturally-relevant diabetes prevention programme for Pacific peoples. The project will be the basis for his PhD thesis, which he plans to start next year. 

“I am very grateful to have received this award,” he says. “It will make a huge difference financially as it will cover tuition fees, research costs and provide a stipend while I do my PhD.”

Prevention programme will be a New Zealand first

Mr Faeamani says his project is unique because it will be the first time an established diabetes prevention programme will be adapted in New Zealand specifically for Pacific communities.

“Pacific people in New Zealand have the highest rates of diabetes and cardio-vascular disease and that increases their risk of cardio-vascular disease mortality, compared to the rest of the population,” he says.

“Despite improved risk screening and treatment, there have been no significant improvements for Pacific peoples, especially for adult males. Hence, identifying culturally-relevant approaches to reduce diabetes and cardio-vascular disease rates among Pacific peoples is critical.”

He says the project will measure the effectiveness of a culturally-relevant lifestyle programme on metabolic risk factors.  

“It will provide important, evidence-based knowledge in reducing diabetes and cardio-vascular disease risk, particularly in improving our understanding of reducing health equities for Pacific communities. 

“It will also contribute to understanding Pacific metabolic health at an international level through our international sister project in the United States.”

Looking to the future

Mr Faeamani says he is excited to be taking the next step in developing his research capacity.

“This scholarship provides an excellent opportunity for me to develop myself as a Pacific public health researcher. With the success of this research, I also hope to improve my researcher status so I can apply for further funding to scale-up this intervention programme.”

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Improving New Zealand’s primary health care

Source: Massey University


Massey University head of the School of Nursing Professor Nicolette Sheridan


Professor Nicolette Sheridan, of Ngāpuhi descent, will describe ways of organising general practice that are associated with good outcomes for patients, particularly for Māori and Pacific peoples, in what will be the final public lecture in Massey University’s Health by Design series.

Currently, the Government spends more than $900 million a year subsidising primary health services, but Professor Sheridan says there is limited information regarding quality, utilisation and outcomes of of primary care services making it difficult to systematically improve primary care across the country.

In 2018 Professor Sheridan was awarded $1.3 million from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Ministry of Health to lead a study investigating the effectiveness of different models of primary care. The research team includes senior academics from collaborating universities – Auckland, Otago, Cambridge (UK) and the Karolinska Institute (Sweden) – together with experts from Sapere Research Group, DataCraft Analytics, and other experts including GPs, nurses, a nurse practitioner, a public health physician, an academic consumer researcher, health service researchers, and Māori and Pacific doctors. 

“The traditional model of primary care has general practitioners and nurses operating as small businesses to deliver health care,” Professor Sheridan says. “Increasing pressures on the traditional model has come from factors that include an ageing, multi-ethnic and medically complex population; an ageing workforce; changing expectations of new graduate doctors and nurses and greater demands for accountability of health professionals.

Responses to these pressures have included corporate models of care delivery, with an emphasis on business management and processes that lower patient fees and increase access to care; and health care homes, with an emphasis on better use of doctor and nurse time, team-based care – mainly with nurses, pharmacists and doctors, and alternatives to face-to- face consultations, such as email and video.”

Data for the study is coming from existing national data collections, from Primary Health Organisations, and from interviews with general practice staff and patients, making it the largest collection of data on primary care in New Zealand.

The study findings are already showing considerable variation in all aspects of primary care, such as practice ownership, size, range of health professionals employed and links with social services. “There are differences in preventive care and patterns of prescribing such as for pain-killers and antidepressants,” Professor Sheridan says. “There are differences in outcomes such as rates of children being admitted to hospital with conditions that can often be managed in primary care. Some variation will be for good reason because patients have different health risks and health needs. We are interested to explore this variation because we think it will point us to practices that have found better ways to organise their services.”

Professor Sheridan, is a research professor, and was recently appointed as head of the School of Nursing at Massey University. She is a registered nurse with more than 25 years’ experience in clinical practice, research and education. Her research interests include healthcare consumers’ experiences of long-term conditions, and investigating disparities in primary health care services between indigenous and non-indigenous citizens, and Pacific and non-Pacific citizens as a means of monitoring government commitment to indigenous rights and equity in health care.

Event details

Time: 5.30pm networking, drinks and nibbles. Event concludes approximately 7 pm

Date: November 5

Location: Flax and Fern room, Block 9, Level B, Student Centre, Massey University Wellington campus

Click here to register.

Mother’s healthcare experience inspires nursing student

Source: Massey University


Bachelor of Nursing student McKenzie Milne.


Bachelor of Nursing student McKenzie Milne was inspired to study nursing after seeing the care her chronically ill mother received, both at home and in hospital.

“My mum has been unwell my entire life, so I’ve experienced first-hand the impact of receiving long-term healthcare,” Ms Milne says. “Unfortunately it hasn’t always been a positive experience, so understanding how healthcare effects an entire family is really important for me to incorporate when I provide care on my nursing placements, and going forward in my career.

“I’m really interested and passionate about how people give and receive healthcare and how people are treated within the healthcare system.”

The 24-year-old from Palmerston North previously studied a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Education and Linguistics at Massey.

“After I graduated, I felt ready to move into the workforce, but I had always felt a natural pull towards nursing. I didn’t feel like my study journey was over, so at the last minute I enrolled in the nursing programme and it’s been the best decision I ever made. This degree is what I was searching for – I just didn’t realise it until I fell into it.”

Ms Milne also works casually while studying. “I work as a healthcare assistant at Arohanui Hospice – mostly night shift work assisting registered nurses to complete patient care and housekeeping, laundry et cetera. I got this job after doing my nursing placement there in my second year of study. I also work as a retail assistant at a giftware store in [shopping mall] The Plaza, and as a cabler for Sky Sport working local events by helping with cabling for the camera crews.”

Supportive learning environment

The former Awatapu College pupil, who flats with two friends and cat Marley, says making time for family and friends while studying is really important. “I am a social person and don’t enjoy the loneliness that can sometimes come with shutting myself away to study for exams. I also like to play social sport when I can around my nursing placements.” 

A highlight of her studies so far was the Hearing Voices simulation lab, as part of the second-year mental health paper. “The facilities here at Massey, including the simulation lab, have really opened my eyes to how care should be given before going into clinical placements. We work with simulation dummies. They simulate pulses and breaths and it allows you to identify factors that you’re looking for on placement.”

She says the support has also been key to her studies. “I’ve been really lucky to be part of such a supportive cohort here at Massey. The support of other students is really key to progressing in your learning and helping you enjoy all the factors of student life. I just feel really blessed to be part of a really good supportive team that have helped me through this journey.”