Dorothy was the public health nurse at Pongaroa from 1974-1977 then again from 1980-1982. Her first contract with the Health Department was Māori Child and Maternal Health where she worked alongside Ngarangi Kohere who was based in Dannevirke and later joining them was Karen Walker. Dorothy then spent time raising her family and recalls nurturing her twin boys while listening to the radio when she would tune in to discussions on the health hui being held around the country. This interested Dorothy and so too, did the setting up of Iwi authorities. Dorothy recalls the early days and fondly remembers her connections with whānau that connected her to Rangitāne, such as Dubbie Power, Jean Pomana, Gwen Power, Kahu Power, Rita Ross, Ginny Wright, Lorraine Stephenson and Roger and Kura Pearse.
“I was always interested in Māori affairs, and would often take the opportunity to talk to people like Lorraine Stephenson and Sharon Paewai. I liked to know what was happening in the world of Māori. My first very brief stint working for Rangitāne o Tamaki nui a Rua Inc. was in a voluntary capacity working in the Toiora Māori field with the students from the Access course.”
“I was officially employed by the organisation in 2001 as the Whānau Ora Registered Nurse and Carol Paewai was the Manager at this time. It was the beginning of a professional and emotional journey that has changed me beyond anything that I ever imagined.
“What I have enjoyed most about working with the Iwi is the different look I get into the Māori World View. I am in awe of the strength that I see of the overall culture of Māori, the collectiveness, awhi and manaakitanga. My thinking has changed as a nurse, which couldn’t have happened in any other way than in an iwi organisation. For example, listening for the unspoken, accepting that the world of Māori is much wider than the ‘here and now’ and the question that I may have just asked. It doesn’t work to just ask a question and expect a short answer; they need to explain in a context. Once I learnt what questions to ask, I got more answers. I don’t believe that main stream systems are set up to allow for this. My present understanding took me awhile to develop. It is whānau who teaches you how to take care of them. They will soon tell you how they want to be looked after. I remember Nanny Ru Kani saying, in answer to a question on the Marae about Māori Frameworks, “It is all,” as she raised her arms in the air and made the shape of a rainbow.”
“You can get blanket statistics about Māori health and wellbeing in mainstream and it doesn’t look good, but then there’s the other side of the coin. Not all of the statistics are so bad. The people to listen to are the many talented scholars who have studied hard and their work is widely quoted in health and social welfare on line. What I see is that Māori brain development is helped by multi tasking from a very early age as shown in tamariki doing complex kapa haka movements, for example. I learnt about the importance of movement in learning when two of my children began to have learning difficulties. It led to a lifelong interest in how the brain can develop and renew its own nerve pathways after any damage has occurred.
“Those who grow up in a Marae based society learn to help in a group setting as they watch what is being done and receive encouragement and adjustment from a variety of relatives. Their accountability goes wider than just towards their own parents as it does in the nuclear family. Larger families, elder siblings and extended whānau exert an additional influence. This is the positive aspect of Te Ao Māori that is not brought into the discussion about the sad infant death statistics discussed frequently. My question is: ‘what part does cultural disconnection play in whānau violence?”
”I have seen how many young māori mums struggle in the early days of child raising, but start to come into their own in their 30s. Their families are larger so they have multiple roles at home. They work hard at kohanga reo/preschool, kura/school, on the marae and sport. Some are solo parents, some work outside home and many seem to develop a clear focus on what is important to them. Participation in whānau hui at Te Kohanga Reo and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori develop a sense of identity and a drive to express their priorites. Sports such as netball foster fitness, wellbeing and recreation. Māori involvement in rugby and netball has surely kept māori on the international stage along with the popularisation of their rich cultural heritage. I see the language of confidence in their walk and an air of capability when faced with a challenge.”
“Māori always need to be led by Māori’ is an adage that I have heard often, and have gradually come to understand its meaning. I recall meeting the late Nanny Hinewai at Taniwaka Kohanga Reo and later taking her with me into the Kohanga Reo for visits. I wish I had a Nanny Hinewai with me when I went into whānau homes sometimes. She opened doors that might otherwise have remained shut or else taken so much longer to establish.”
Over my time here, Rangitāne o Tamaki nui a Rua Inc. has massively developed. The number of staff and the multiple roles, it’s often difficult, but staff rise to the challenge and do it well. I love seeing the energy in the staff for the role they are in. There are also many volunteers and they do it with such a passion. They look after their families, play sports, watch the kid’s sports and turn up at the marae with arms full of kai and baking, lose a lot of sleep and come back to work the next day, they are truly amazing.”
“Most of my work has been with women and children, so most of my kōrero is about them. Stephen Paewai helped me to expand into the male network, and I am truly grateful. It has been a challenge, but it has helped to fill a big gap in my experience. I noticed that the kōrero around men’s health was completely different from that of women, and much has been done by Rangitāne over the years to address that need by fostering Mana Tāne, Tryathalons and Swimathons. Various other mainstream support groups, such as those titled, ‘Healthy Living With…’ are responding to the call for group support. Tariana Turia has brought about a better understanding of Māori health and welfare issues with her emphasis on Whānau Ora. I never thought that I would see the day when a National government would partner with a Māori Party to make the most important innovation affecting Māori in the years since I started nursing.”
“There is so much richness and depth that brings Māori to the level that you see on the stage of kapa haka. When watching our local Kura Kaupapa Māori perform in the square, some of whom I saw as babies, and are know rolling their eyes in the haka with so much pride, fills me with joy, so colourful.
“I would like to thank Rangitāne o Tamaki nui a Rua for the opportunity of giving me a small understanding of Te Reo Māori, (no fault of the Organisation’s that I didn’t do better!) but nevertheless it has made me aware of what’s involved in learning the language and how the language expresses the soul of the people. It is a fine culture and I am in awe of it all”.
Share this entry
Facsimile 06 374 5209