News and Notices

International Women’s Day – Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress

Today marks International Women’s Day and to celebrate, we want to take the opportunity to acknowledge some of the inspiring colleagues who lead change at Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough.

Our workforce is made up of almost 80% women, and to highlight this year’s theme, ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’, we spoke to some of them about the benefits and challenges that come with their role.

Tui Lister

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Tui Lister, Pou Korowai Team Lead for Māori Health at Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora - Nelson Marlborough, and her team offer a holistic approach to an otherwise clinical setting, where they support patients and their whānau by identifying and meeting their cultural needs.

“I have the honour of working alongside, and supporting our Māori health team that takes care of our beautiful Māori and Pasifika community,” she said.
Since she started working in healthcare twenty-years ago, a lot has changed, and for the better. For that reason, she is passionate about encouraging new ideas, “some of us old ones get stuck in our ways, and we need to be reminded that the world is evolving, health is evolving”, she said.
Tui loves the diversity of her role, in particular having a voice to advocate and represent our Māori community.
“In an organisation as large as ours, I love being part of the plan where equity matters. Māori health isn’t ours alone to tackle”.
There is a lot of work for such a small team but with the support of colleagues, community, local Iwi, and many other partnerships, the collective whakawhanaungatanga relationship building allows Tui and the team to ensure the quality of their services.
The Māori Health team have had a resounding impact on our local community in the time they’ve been offering these services, however they are limited in capacity and resources, which is the biggest challenge for Tui as she would love to be able to offer their support and services to more whānau. 
When asked what International Women’s Day means for her, Tui emphasised how it recognises women’s empowerment and wāhine toa – the power and strength of being a wahine.
“People talk about acknowledgement, it’s more than that. We’d quite happily sit in the background. If you look at a marae, that’s where all the mahi happens. At the front it looks all lovely and beautiful, but all the hard mahi is happening in the background and I love the fact that that is noticed,” she said.

“In te Ao Māori, the Māori worldview, you cannot separate your professional life from your personal life. It is a part of who you bring to the tepu/table. When I sit in a hui I have my tipuna and my whānau with me when I conduct myself” Tui said. That is the kaupapa she lives by. 
“If we’re not right ourselves, if we’re not balanced, how do we look after others and support them to be well in a health setting? So, we encourage our team to look after each other, look after yourself, make sure your whānau is ok,” she said. “Wāhine are strong, they are the pou, the stronghold, of any whare and they should be treasured as the taonga that they are.”
Tui has been blessed, inspired and mentored by many people in her life. Now, she feels most inspired by her eighteen-year-old daughter.
“She makes me strive to be an amazing mum, to show her our cultural practices and beliefs so that when I am gone, she will pass that on to my moko. She makes me strive to be respectful, to be the best I can be both as a mother, as a wife to my husband, and as a wahine.”
Tui and her husband have always taught their children to give everything a go, that it’s OK to fail as it’s what you learn from it that matters. This is the same advice she would give to other women considering a career in health care.
“Know that there are challenges in work and life, and that failure is learning. Don’t be disheartened by failure, flip it around to look at it as a learning. Too many young people put pressure on themselves to get everything perfect. There are always lessons to be learned”, she said.

Grace Francis

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Grace Francis, Community Midwife, Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough, recently returned to midwifery following an eight year career break to raise her children. 

As a mum of two, Grace strives to empower women from all backgrounds by giving them the confidence they need to birth and nurture their baby.

“If mothers are strong, healthy, empowered and have the right knowledge and skills, families thrive and babies are healthy and grow well,” she said. “Midwife means ‘with women’ and that's the reason I’m in this job - for women. I think people have this idea that midwifery is all about babies, but really the baby is the end result of working with expectant mothers.”

Grace and her team support women from all walks of life, including refugees and migrants who speak limited English, and those who have complex medical or social issues. By building trust with clients to ensure they feel safe and comfortable in their care, they can form a birth plan which includes their wishes, preferences and things that are important to them personally or culturally. 

Being a midwife can be an incredibly fulfilling role, something Grace acknowledges as she encourages anyone considering a career in the field to go for it.

“It’s a really rewarding job and a real privilege”, she said. “I also think it’s a practical career choice in that there’s never a shortage of jobs, it’s a service that will always be needed.” 

The midwifery team at Nelson Hospital inspire Grace, particularly Wendy De Groot who has been a midwife for over 32 years. 

“I can always go to her if I’ve got a bit of a hairy question or something I haven’t come across being much more junior. She consistently has such great feedback from clients.”

Midwives play a vital role in society and have the power to influence and instill health education and health practices which play an important part in the upbringing of children.

“It's that whole thing about how the health of an entire society really is underpinned by mothers, because they are the ones who are raising the society”, Grace said.

For more information about midwifery education, please visit the Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora – Nelson Marlborough website.