Journals from NURS 298 PA Health Care in New Zealand
2010-01-14 The Hunga Manaaki Team
During todays health care site visit we were formally introduced to our hosts following Maori traditions. The staff of the Hunga Manaaki program work as advocates for Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) hospital patients, enhancing communication with health care workers and making sure that all aspects of a patients health and culture are addressed and respected. The male staff of the team sat in front of the women, all facing our group of sixteen. During a foreword and song in Maori, I began to feel a bit out of place, unaware of what would follow the opening ritual and language I didnt understand. After everyone had introduced themselves, we enjoyed coffee, tea, and snacks while mingling with our hosts. My discomfort with the unfamiliar beginning dissipated instantly as our hosts created a friendly atmosphere of sincere welcome. It was obvious that all members of the Hunga Manaaki team provide each other with unlimited support and camaraderie.
After learning the history of the program, our hosts led us to Tamate Kapua, the sacred meeting house at the bottom of the hill. Each member of the team was open to our questions and generously shared their culture and explained traditions. Respect was paid to the sacred grounds through a prayer and song in Maori that acknowledged us as visitors and friends. As we learned about the significance of the building's carvings, I became aware of how easily we were welcomed into the experience of Maori traditions. Our hosts then led us down to the Anglican church and invited our group inside. The exterior of the building was very similar to other Christian churches I have seen before, but the inside was decorated predominantly with wooden Maori carvings. The warm brown color of the wood was a complete contrast to biblical depictions that I find overwhelming in other churches. Here I connected with the wairua, or spiritual aspect of my health, feeling immediate acceptance and peace as I sat in the calm of the Maori church.
As we continued our learning experience with the Hunga Manaaki team, I learned that the sense of spirit and care that each staff member shared with us permeates through their work with patients. This unique team invests a great deal of care into their relationships with visitors, staff, and patients. I will be forever grateful for the spiritual and cultural insights and experience our gracious hosts provided.