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Traditional model of health practice could restore wellness.

Following an adjournment of the lengthy structural review debate, the conference welcomed keynote speaker, executive cultural adviser to Whakatane's Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi Pouroto Ngaropo. Ngaropo replaced the advertised keynote speaker, Maori lawyer Moana Jackson, who was unavailable due to ill health. Among an impressive list of responsibilities, Ngaropo, of Ngati Awa affiliation, is deputy chair of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board's Maori Health Runanga and chair of the Eastern Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation.

An expert in te reo Maori and Maori traditions, Ngaropo presented to delegates a traditional model of health practice--Nga Pou Mana o Io--and promoted its integration into the nursing profession. This model had been developed over the last four years through Maori health services at Pacific Health and the local tangata whenua of the Eastern Bay of Plenty, he said. It had also been presented to the Ministry of Health, where it was accepted that it could assist with identifying tangata whenua determinants of health. Ngaropo described the model as being developed pre-colonisation, with its foundations linking back to the traditional belief systems of tangata whenua. "Before the coming of the Pakeha, tangata whenua practised cultural norms that included mana atua, mana tupuna, mana whenua and mana tangata, which gave them optimum spiritual, cultural, mental, social, economic and physical wellbeing at all levels." In contrast, western models of care were symptoms of colonisation, which included abuse, alcohol and drugs and the alienation of Maori from their lands. Colonisation had disconnected tangata whenua from their spiritual foundation and had transformed their wairua to that of a "colonised soul". Through being assimilated into another culture's spiritual values, beliefs and practices, tangata whenua had become spiritually unwell. "Cultural detachment from one's spiritual, ancestral land and social unit of identity creates powerlessness, which, when re-enforced by pakeha legislation, ultimately impacts on the total wellbeing of tangata whenua."

Ngaropo defined the four pillars or elements of the traditional model. The first, mana atua, provided the spiritual connection of tangata whenua to its highest sources of spiritual wellbeing; the second, mana tupuna, was about a person's connection to their ancestry; the third, mana whenua, was about connection to the land and one's place of origin; and the last, mana tangata, was about connection to one's whanua, hapu, iwi, marae or waka. "These four pillars contribute to the four dimensions of health from a holistic perspective. If any one of these elements is missing, a state of unwellness results," he said.

Ngaropo concluded his address by presenting a number of recommendations to delegates pertaining to each of the four pillars. These included that the conference acknowledge that the spiritual dimension was an integral part of health and that it recognise the role of kaumatua, tohunga and spiritual leaders in Te Ao Maori; that the conference endeavour to have fluent te reo Maori speakers or have access to them; that staff attend tikanga, Treaty of Waitangi, marae protocol, cultural safety and te reo pronunciation training; that nurses use cultural assessment tools to assess wellness and provide public health services in a culturally inclusive manner, paying heed to the status of tangata whenua in Aotearoa; and that the conference endeavour to integrate the Nga Pou Mana o Io traditional model of practice into health service delivery.
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Title Annotation:NZNO Conference 2004
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:546
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