Q&A Hemaima Hughes

1 January 2014

The passionate girl guide from the backblocks of Opotiki decided at 11 she wanted to be a nurse but found herself a court clerk on leaving school. Find out more about the President of the National Council of Māori Nurses' career that has spanned visiting patients in a dugout canoe in the Solomon Islands to writing nursing curriculum for a Māori nursing degree.

NAME: Hemaima Hughes POSITION: President of National Council of Māori Nurses/Te Kaunihera Neehi Māori o Aotearoa

JOB TITLE: Nurse Consultant/Managing Director : Maima Oranga Services Ltd, Part-time Duty Nurse Manager, Whānau Health Nurse. IWI: Whakatohea

Ko-wai e whakamaharahara

E mihi, e tangi, e karanga, tēnā koe, tēnā korua, tēnā koutou. i ngā rau Rangatira mā, o ngā hau e wha, mai ao te whai ao ki te ao marama.

Huri-noa ki o tātou Kai-hanga, nana nei te tīmatanga, nana nei te mutunga, no reira,

kei te mihi, kei te mihi, kei te mihi ki to mātou Ariki-nui, Ariki Matua o te Ao e mihi atu.

Ka tu ahau kei raro i te maru o tāku tipuna te wahine toa a Muriwai.

Ko Toroa te Arikinui

Ko Mataatua te waka

Ko Matiti te Maunga

Ko Te Awa Tamatea te Awa

Ngāti Irapuaea me Ngai Tamahaua te hapū

Ko Whakatohea te iwi

No Opotiki tāku kainga tuturu inaianei e noho ana ki Whakatu Nelson.

Ko Hemaima Hughes tāku īngoa.

No reira. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā ra koutou katoa.

Where and when did you train?

Whakatane Hospital School of Nursing, Bay of Plenty Hospital Board. 1969-1972.

Other qualifications/professional roles?

1993/1994 Post Grad Papers, Bachelor of Social Science, Massey University,

1995 Certificate in Adult Teaching, Nelson Polytechnic.

1996 Bachelor of Nursing, Nelson Polytechnic.

2007 Master of Arts (Applied) in Nursing with Merit, Victoria University of Wellington.

Apart from my current NCMN president’s role I have been an NZNO Te Runanga representative, a BHSc (Māori) Nursing curriculum writer, and a programme leader for Whitireia’s BN (Māori)from 2009-10. I am currently a competence review panelist for the Nursing Council plus hold a number of other committee and advisory posts.

When and/or why did you decide to become a nurse?

At the age of 11, while a patient in Opotiki hospital, I was most impressed by the nursing care and decided I wanted to be a nurse. Being the eldest of six children I loved helping our Mum with caring for the whānau. And on the corner of our street was the Ark Haven rest home where I loved spending time visiting my nanny as well as helping feed the residents.

I dreamed of becoming a Brownie at the age of nine so that I could help people and my dream materialized when I joined the local Brownie pack. One evening on my return home from a Girl Guide meeting my parents informed me that I had been selected along with three other Opotiki girls to attend the National Girl Guide Jubilee in Christchurch 1963. It was such an honour. My parents made a tremendous sacrifice to enable me to attend and I will be forever grateful especially when there were five other children to feed, clothe and care for. We journeyed by bus, ferry then train to Christchurch together with 24 other girls from the bay. The Jubilee had a real wow factor about it (all those girls with so many badges) particularly for impressionable young 13-year-old girls from the backblocks of Opotiki. After attending that Jubilee my girlfriend and I returned to Opotiki with renewed vigor, determined to acquire more badges just like the girls we saw in Christchurch. We quickly progressed through the ranks and in 1965 became the first girl guides in the Bay of Plenty to achieve first class honours and all round cords; a rare happening in those days.

During my secondary schooling I made it known I wanted to go nursing but was informed that I didn’t have the right subjects and couldn’t be a nurse. When I finished college I was sent to Māori and Island Affairs in Rotorua to work as court clerk in the hope of becoming a Māori welfare officer. But one night I had a very vivid dream of being called to be a nurse and I knew that is what I really wanted to do. The next day I had to meet with the Deputy Registrar of Māori and Island Affairs. When asked which department branch I wanted to go to next I replied “none because I am going nursing”. My mind was made up and so began my journey.

What was your nursing career up to your current job?

I have a background of 44 years in clinical nursing, Māori health leadership and management, nursing and cultural safety education, policy, provision of clinical and cultural supervision, curriculum and programme development, nursing research and service delivery.

My new graduate RN experience began as a volunteer in 1973 -1975 at Atoifi Hospital, Malaita on the edge of the jungle in the Solomon Islands. The experience was invaluable because it included all facets of nursing across the lifespan and specialties from obstetrics to public health covering diseases from malaria to leprosy. Our mode of transport was foot, dugout canoe powered with an outboard motor or by a small launch. Loved the work and loved the people.

I returned to Whakatane Hospital and was a charge nurse when I left for the birth of my first child in 1977. I later worked as a casual district nurse and did some practice nursing before returning to Whakatane Hospital. In 1986 we moved to Nelson with our five children and I nursed at Nelson Hospital before being first seconded into nurse education and then in 1996-2003 became a clinical nurse educator/cultural safety coordinator on the BN program at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT). From 2003-2004 I was a part-time nurse manager of Ngāti Koata Health & Social Services and also a part-time teaching associate for Victoria University’s graduate nursing school.

So what is your current job all about?

My new appointment as President of Te Kaunihera o Ngā Neehi Māori o Aotearoa (NCMN) and being a recent recipient of an award for service to nursing and midwifery are both honours.

I continue to work as a nurse consultant managing Maima Oranga Services Ltd providing clinical and cultural supervision, mentoring, engaged in nursing research projects, facilitating cultural awareness workshops, doing competence review work for the Nursing Council, and advice on various committees.

I work part time as a whānau health nurse at Te Amo Health, a mobile nursing service for Motueka whānau. I also work as a part-time duty nurse manager at Nelson Hospital.

What do you love most about your current nursing leadership role?

Being given the opportunity to lead Te Kaunihera o ngā Neehi Māori o Aotearoa (NCMN) forward into the future, “Waerea te ara ki te ora tātou ngā iwi – clearing the way toward total health and wellbeing for all our people.”

I know that there will be challenges ahead. What excites me is that having 44 years experience across all facets of nursing has given me a broad experience of many leadership styles – some enhancing and some detrimental. That experience has given me the impetus to strive to be an accomplished and caring leader.

What do you love least?

Hearing about vicious attacks on people unable to defend themselves such as the recent sexual assault and brutal rape of an 87 year old woman. I do not like injustice, inequality, unfairness, mistreatment and violence.

If there was a fairy godmother of nursing what three wishes would you ask to be granted for the New Zealand nursing workforce?

  1. The need for nurses to work together, value, support and care for one another across the nursing spectrum. Let’s practice what we preach and strive to reduce horizontal violence and workplace bullying.
  2. Recruit, retain, support an increase of Māori nurses in Aotearoa/NZ to deliver health care services, improve health outcomes and address the needs of Whānau Ora.
  3. More positions available for new graduate registered nurses through a supportive and cost effective process (instead of the current competitive application process for NETP places) New graduates have already made considerable sacrifices to enter nursing because they want to make a difference. If they are unable to find positions they will either leave New Zealand, leave nursing, end up on the benefit and forfeit their annual practicing certificates. We know full well there is a forecast shortage of nurses both nationally and internationally on the horizon and we all need to be proactive and do something about it.

What do you think are the characteristics of a good leader?

I believe the characteristics of a good leader to be faith, belief, passion, integrity, respect and confidence in one’s self to be a leader. A leader needs be open and honest to instill honesty in others, needs to be respectful and sensitive, be a good listener, empathetic, sympathetic, ethical, fair, trustworthy, caring, possess the ability to delegate, be a good communicator, have a sense of humour, be committed to the kaupapa (cause), be creative, have a positive attitude, be intuitive, posses the ability to inspire others. Also posses the ability to recruit and influence others to have confidence and faith in the direction they are being led.

And are they intrinsic or can they be learnt?

Leadership characteristics are intrinsic but can be learnt provided the one who desires to be a leader is open to learning and being taught.

What do you do to try and keep fit, healthy, happy and balanced?

To keep fit, healthy, happy and balanced with my wairua intact I enjoy pilates, yoga, tai chi, jogging/ running, swimming, cycling, cooking, training for the women’s triathlons, playing my guitar and singing. Do enjoy a good movie and dining with friends and whānau. “Early to bed early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Helping keep me sane, busy or on task outside of work are?

Spending time connecting with my creator seeking wisdom and guidance. Working in the garden, smelling the flowers, growing our own vegetables, and walking amongst nature. Walking, cycling and discussing the days events with my Tane helps me stay focused. Love spending time with our whānau and mokopuna. Thoroughly enjoy spending time with likeminded people and conversing with my sisters and brothers by phone or kanohi ki te kanohi. (face to face).

What is number one on your ‘bucket list’ of things to do?

Travel to Israel 2014.

If I wasn’t a nurse I’d be a…

A social worker, a chaplain.