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Acknowledging nursing pioneers.

Acknowledging the work of the "wonderful women" who campaigned long and hard to have nursing education moved into the tertiary sector was the primary purpose of a celebratory dinner in Auckland last month.

Celebration organiser, current head of the nursing school at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Mary McManus, said the occasion also marked 30 years since the establishment of the first polytechnic nursing school in Auckland at the then Auckland Institute of Technology (AIT) in 1975. The Christchurch and Wellington polytechnic nursing courses began in 1974.

Sixty-five people, including past and present heads of Auckland nursing schools, gathered for the dinner, addressed by NZNA president at that time, Margaret Bazley. a former chief nurse with the Health Department and now Commissioner with the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct.

Bazley said the transfer of nursing into the tertiary education sector was "the best decision ever made for nursing" and was about "the survival of NZNA. We worked hard to mobilise membership around this issue which was the culmination of a 50-year battle. A thousand nurses wrote letters to the Government. Setting up the tertiary education programmes was a colossal battle and it was a battle for students to win acceptance in hospitals. People are now receiving better care from qualified people, not from a student workforce. I never cease to be amazed at the level of nurses' qualifications."

Bazley said there were always battles to be fought but it was important to pause and celebrate. McManus said she was delighted with the celebration and that all the Auckland nursing schools had worked together to make it happen.

Professor of Nursing at AUT Jo Walton, in her address at the dinner, issued a challenge to nurse leaders to be careful "that we don't look too much backwards and inwards; rather we must look outwards and forwards".

She said the face of nursing was changing and asked where were the young nursing leaders. "We are in a long race and who are we to hand the baton on to? In Auckland, the student nursing population is ethnically diverse but I'm not sure if we see that reflected in our leaders. We need to think about how we can work together to foster future young leaders."

Walton does not think the battle for nursing in the tertiary sector, notably the university sector, is over yet and said the performance based research funding exercise proved that.

She would also like to see "another cohort of the feisty women who got nursing education into the tertiary sector" emerge. That required current leaders and educators to nurture future leaders.
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Title Annotation:nursing education moved into the tertiary sector was the primary purpose of a celebratory dinner
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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