Kerri Nuku calls for Māori nurses at United Nations

By Leo Horgan, Online News Team

In New York this morning, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku addressed the United Nations forum of the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). Ms Nuku repeated her message that without a Māori nursing workforce strategy, the aim to attract and retain thousands more Māori nurses into nursing would never be realised.

“It is unacceptable that nothing has been done to attract more Māori into nursing in Aotearoa New Zealand since I last addressed the UNDRIP forum two years ago,” Ms Nuku said.

“It is clear that matching the demographics of the workforce to population, ethnic makeup, improves health outcomes. Culturally appropriate health services are economically sensible and the right thing to do for our indigenous people.

“Māori nurses offer a whānau and holistic approach to health and wellbeing and this is proving effective for Māori, particularly in deprived areas. I don’t see a decent commitment to rolling out this approach where needed, or the funding commitment to pay Māori nurses working with Māori health employers on a par with other health providers.


“Some nurses working in DHBs and other primary health care services have pay rates up to 20 percent higher than those paid to nurses working for Maori/ iwi providers."

In addition, Ms Nuku says currently Māori nurses make up seven percent of the nursing workforce yet the Māori population is around fifteen percent.

“I am calling again for a Māori nursing workforce strategy so that the eight percent shortfall can be recruited to the New Zealand nursing workforce.

“We will need over ten thousand more Māori nurses by 2028 to match population need.  Where is the vision and drive to achieve that? I believe the under-representation of Māori in the health workforce is structural discrimination and NZNO has lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission about this,” Ms Nuku explained.