New voice for Pacific nurses

14 April 2016

Helping strengthen the voice of Pacific nurses in New Zealand is one aim of the new Pan Pacific Nurses Association launched last night in Auckland.

Pauline Fuimaono Sanders-Telfer, secretary of the new professional association for Pacific nurses, said PPNA has been founded by alumni of the Aniva Pacific Nurse Leadership programmes and is open to nurses who identify with any Pacific nation.

She said the association's intent is to complement the work already done by the existing Pacific nursing and health care associations and to assist them by gathering Pacific nurses together to help address the inequities experienced by Pacific communities.

The founding members are graduates of the Ministry of Health-funded Aniva leadership programmes (delivered in partnership by Whitireia Community Polytechnic and consultants Pacific Perspectives) that were set up with the aim of increasing the number of Pacific nurses both entering postgraduate study and taking up leadership positions.

The alumni – many of them now in leadership positions – are keen to mentor more Pacific nurses into leadership roles, support and participate in Pacific health research, and contribute to the design of health services delivery. The first association president is Aniva alumna To'a Fereti, who is the clinical nurse director for Counties Manukau District Health Board's medicine and clinical support services and secretary Sanders-Telfer is nurse leader of New Zealand's only Pacific-led primary health organisation, Auckland's Alliance Health Plus Trust. Patron of the association is Dr Margaret Southwick, the former chair of the Nursing Council and a nursing educator and researcher with a long involvement in Pacific nursing development.

Sanders-Telfer said with Pacific nurses only making up 2.9 per cent of the nursing workforce it was keen – like the other associations – to help grow the Pacific nursing workforce and build Pacific nursing knowledge.  "Which no one organisation can do on their own."

"We know that our Pacific communities are over-represented in many health issues and health conditions and experience health inequities," said Sanders-Telfer.

"As Pacific nurses we have the clinical knowledge and cultural knowledge to be able to contribute to service delivery and design.  We are really wanting to engage in the sector at many levels to try and be part of that journey of improving health care services and delivery."

She said a key underlying philosophy for the PPNA was Margaret Southwick's 'the 3Cs' that Pacific nurses need to build to stand strong in their nursing and cultural knowledge – the 3Cs are credentials, credibility and courage.

The core founders of PPNA were the first to graduate in 2012 with the Aniva postgraduate certificate and now 15 of them are going through the Masters programme this year.

Sanders-Telfer said Aniva graduates had talked about founding an association after talking to Pacific nurses who weren't members of any existing Pacific nursing associations for a variety of reasons, including identifying with more than one Pacific ethnicity.

"The existing associations are generally very strong in their cultural grounding because many were born and trained in the Pacific and have brought that strength in cultural knowledge," said Sanders-Telfer. She said a number of the Aniva graduates were born in NZ and of mixed ethnicity.

"So we thought that having a Pan Pacific Nurses Association would address issues such as 'which association should I pick if I'm of mixed ethnicity?' or 'my cultural roots are not that strong but I still identify as being Pacific where can I go?'"

She said following last night's launch the new association would step up its promotion and building its membership and would be contributing submissions on consultation documents.

Sanders-Telfer said kept at the forefront would be the association's vision that “Pacific peoples will achieve their fullest potential for wellbeing, strength and longevity”. 

To contact the association email:




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