Educator is here to learn
Whitireia’s nursing programme has brought a researcher halfway around the world to study it.
British-born nurse educator Hazell Penn, who teaches at Camosun College in Victoria, Canada, spent February and March at Whitireia immersing herself in the Bachelor of Nursing Maori and Pacific streams.
No other nursing programme in the world has three streams running alongside each other catering for different ethnicities, but resulting in the same degree.
The programme has much to teach universities like Camosun, where 7 per cent of the student population is indigenous First Nations Canadian, Ms Penn says.
Ten places are reserved for First Nations students on Camosun’s nursing course every year, but it’s not unusual for seven of those to drop out by the fourth and final year of the degree.
‘‘They weren’t prepared or supported enough to stay in the programme and they left. It kept happening,’’ Ms Penn says.
‘‘There is no celebration of culture. It’s like ‘let go of your ideas and come join our course’.’’
Whitireia involves Maori and Pacific Island students’ family and community in their learning, and includes tikanga or customs in everyday teaching.
Ms Penn had been having some success by supporting and coaching indigenous students in Canada when she discovered Whitireia’s approach in an academic article by former dean Margaret Southwick.
‘‘It was a big moment to realise other people have a programme in place to really support these students,’’ Ms Penn says.
‘‘It’s been a terrific journey for me, personally and professionally.’’
Like Maori and Pacific Islanders here, First Nations people suffer disproportionately poor health in Canada, and like in New Zealand, the government is trying to get more indigenous people into health professions.
Ms Penn can see parts of Whitireia’s model working back in Canada, but there are hurdles like languages.
Ms Penn’s visit was a real boost to Whitireia students and staff, says Kathy Hol- loway, health faculty dean.
‘‘It’s really useful to have that perspective because when you’re in the middle of doing it, it becomes commonplace.’’
Learning link: Canadian nursing educator Hazell Penn, right, spent February and March at Whitireia researching the Maori and Pacific Island nursing programme run by health dean Kathy Holloway.