International Nurses Day: Growing our Māori health workforce

Ngaira Harker is passionate about growing Hawke’s Bay’s Māori health workforce and developing and supporting the aspirations of Māori nurses within the rohe. 

The Nurse Director of Māori Health at Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) oversees and advises on Māori health workforce initiatives, Māori nursing scholarships and networks with the many nursing groups both within the DHB and within Māori health services. She supports and offers resources in growing their workforce capability and capacity. Ngaira also works collaboratively with Nurse Directors at a strategic level to input and inform on Māori health and Māori workforce development. 

Ngaira initiated the development of a new internship, Tuakana Teina, which saw seven university students spend their summer at HBDHB working on projects to improve Māori health outcomes. 

“It was fantastic to have so many talented young Māori health students working with us and it bodes well for future recruitment.” HBDHB is working towards increasing the total Māori workforce from 14 to 16 percent to deliver more effective health services. 

“We have some fantastic Māori nurse leaders however we could always do with more, so it’s part of my role to mentor nurses along a leadership pathway.  We are working on ensuring that we have a diverse workforce that supports the diversity that exists in our community.  Having increased participation at a leadership level for Māori is essential in creating and supporting Māori models of health and ultimately improved health outcomes for our communities. 

Ngaira has had a diverse nursing and education career spanning New Zealand and the United States of America.  She was previously the Director of Nursing and Health Studies at Waiariki Institute of Technology and at  Whakatane’s Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.  She has a Master of Health Science, much of her study has focussed on indigenous health and education. 

She is from Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairoa and has a large whanau living in Wairoa. She grew up in Maraenui, so sees her role at HBDHB coming full circle.

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