‘Overcoming the headwinds’ – Presidential address to NZNO AGM 2017

NZNO AGM 2017 Presidential address IMG_6851


Whakarongo rā

Whakarongo ake au ki te tangi a te manu, e rere runga rawa e

Tui, tui, tui, tuia

Tuia i runga, tuia i raro, tuia i roto, tuia i waho

Tui, tui, tuia

Kia rongo te ao, kia rongo te pō

Tui, tui, tuia

Tihei mauri ora!

Ko te kupu tuatahi, ki to tātou kaihanga, nāna nei te kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea.

E te iwi kāinga, tēnā koutou. Koirā Taranaki Whānui ki Te Ūpoko o Te Ika te tangata whenua.

E te maunga e tū mai rā, tēnā koe Pukeauta.

Ki te Awa Kairangi, tēnā koe.

E ngā mate, haere, haere, haere. Rātou te hunga mate ki a rātou. Tātou te hunga ora e huihui mai nei, tēnā tātou.

Ko te wā mō te hui taumata o te Tōpūtanga Taphui Kaitiaki o Aotearoa, ā, kia whakaterehia tō tātou waka te kaupapa.

He waka eke noa. Nā konei, mā te titiro ki muri, ka mārama te titiro ki mua.

Ka maumahara ahau ki te whakataukī: mā te tika o te toki o te tangere, me te tohu o te panaho, ka pai te tere o te waka i ngā momo moana katoa.

Nō reira, e rau rangatira mā, e nga manuhiri tūārangi, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.


I listen

I listen, where up high, a bird flies

Its cry rings out

Sew, stitch, bind it together

From above, from below, from within, from outside

Sew and bind it together

During the day, and the night

Sew, stitch, bind it together

My first word was to the creator, who sowed the seed from the realm of beginnings, and endings.

I greeted the tangata whenua, Taranaki Whānui ki Te Ūpoko o Te Ika. Greetings to their sacred mountain and river.

Greetings to those who have passed on, since we last gathered here together.

We have lost great leaders from our NZNO whānau over the past year.

Shortly after our 2016 AGM I received the sad news that Stephen Pugh had passed away in Hamilton. Many of you will remember Steve and his Welsh lilt, which added music to our AGM debates up until his last appearance here in this room in 2015. Steve was a perioperative nurse. He served as chair of the Midlands Regional Council of NZNO, as the Midlands rep on the Membership Committee and as a worksite convenor, leading his fellow NZNO delegates at Waikato DHB. I will always remember Steve for the strong union values he brought to the DHB Sector National Delegates Committee.

A month later, Sharon Williams died in Christchurch. Sharon worked at Burwood Hospital, starting in 1988 as an enrolled nurse and later becoming an RN. She was worksite convenor from 2001 until 2007. During 2013 I had the privilege of working alongside Sharon on the Board of Directors, and the following year on the Membership Committee, where she was inaugural vice-chair. But for years before, Sharon had been an active member of the Canterbury Regional Council and, from 2009 to 2011, served as Regional Council Chair. My condolences to the delegates from Canterbury. Ka aroha ki a koutou.

On the same day, in Wellington, Helen Kelly died of lung cancer. Helen trained as a primary school teacher but soon stepped up to represent her colleagues as a leader of their union and professional body, the New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa. When she was elected President of the Council of Trade Unions in 2007, Helen became the first woman to lead New Zealand’s trade union movement – our movement. In the words of Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne, Helen “loved being with our members and would take every opportunity to stand with them”. Our tūpuna rangatira stands with us still.

This year, another great leader departed from us.

Mina Timutimu, of Te Atiawa and hapū Ngāti Rahiri, began her career as a surgical nurse in 1951 before completing her midwifery training ten years later at St Helen’s maternity hospital, here in Wellington. Minu was appointed kaumātua of the New Zealand College of Midwives in 1996 and became an inaugural member of the Midwifery Council in 2003. She dedicated her working life to Māori mothers and babies. She was a visionary kaitiaki, leading the profession down the bicultural pathway over 25 years.

Those who have gone before, are with us today. So now I greet those gathered here, among the living.

It is time for the hui taumata, the highest meeting of NZNO. The purpose of the meeting is to steer our waka. It’s a waka we’re all in together, and we’ll hear more about this waka shortly from the Membership Committee and Te Poari. But for now, by looking back, the view ahead will become clear.

At this time I remember the ancient saying: “by designing and shaping the keel of the waka to perfection, your canoe will overcome obstacles”.

So to the many leaders, and guests from afar – greetings, greetings, greetings one and all.


When I look back over the last year, I see that our waka’s progress towards some of the goals contained in the NZNO Strategic Plan 2015-2020 has been buffeted by strong headwinds.

President's address (to be amalgamated with final slides)

Our organisation – our members, and staff – have paddled hard for Improved Health Outcomes. But headway has been slight in the “implementation of population health approaches which reduce health inequalities, address determinants of health and those things that impact on people’s ability to live well”.

We have pursued of our goal of Skilled Nurses, one where “all graduate nurses, Enrolled Nurses and Midwives… have access to a funded Entry to Specialist Practice or Nurse Entry to Practice Programme position”. But progress – in the words of Associate Professional Services Manager Hilary Graham-Smith – has been “glacial”.

And we have steered towards a Strong Workforce, but getting “employers to implement systems for safe staffing in the workplace” remains a far-off shore.

In other areas, such as advocating for pay equity to promote a fair society and healthy communities, we’ve made the most of favourable conditions and have come a long way. The Chief Executive will shortly highlight some successes in achieving our goals as an Effective Organisation.

Scanning the horizon for approaching weather systems, and developing strategies to navigate the challenges, is the responsibility of the Board of Directors. At the start of last year, the Board recognised that underfunding was emerging as a strong wind impeding our progress and voted to make health funding a campaign priority for NZNO for 2016/17.

This has been implemented by NZNO staff and by member-leaders — some of you are in the room today — as the #ShoutOutForHealth campaign. It’s been our karakia to calm the headwind, whakataka te hau. Through #ShouOut and our collaboration with the broader #YesWeCare coalition, we have helped to make health the number one issue for voters in this year’s general election. That’s according to the latest Newshub-Reid research poll.

Back in April, Kerri Nuku and I launched the #ShoutOut Open Letter on Health Funding. You’re invited to join us outside Te Papa at lunch time tomorrow for the next campaign activity, displaying the 5,000 signed letters and boxing them all up, to keep health funding in the public eye this week.

Turning our attention to 2018, there are two key events which will influence how we achieve the goals in our NZNO Strategic Plan.

Thursday of next week is the last scheduled day of bargaining for the DHB MECA. Fuelled by member participation, the MECA campaign is propelling us forward towards our strategic goals.

But before Thursday, of course, comes election day. Climatic conditions will definitely be affected by this.

NZNO has published a manifesto outlining our priorities for health in this election, titled Nursing Matters. We have evaluated the policies of eight political parties against these priorities and published the results in Kai Tiaki, to enable an informed vote for health.

President's address (to be amalgamated with final slides)2

But it is up to you, your families and your communities to turn out and cast that vote, for your chosen party.

As we were reminded yesterday, on Suffrage Day, voting matters. It mattered to Kate Sheppard, Meri Mangakāhia and the 32,000 other women who took action in 1893 to demand it.

President's address (to be amalgamated with final slides)3

The right to vote is a taonga which our foremothers and forefathers fought for, and handed down to us. It is the foundation of a democratic system, one which also includes other checks and balances on the exercise of power. Democracy brings scrutiny, accountability and protection from leaders making decisions which are unsupported by evidence, or harmful to the common good.

And just as this true for our country, so it’s also true within our own organisation.

Soon we will begin voting on remits which members have put to refine our rules and determine our strategic direction.

The AGM also reviews and ratifies the strategic policy decisions made by your Board in the last year. This happens because AGM delegates from years gone by voted to add these checks and balances into our NZNO Constitution. In 2015, a proposal by the previous Board to remove them was voted down.

This annual meeting is where, in between the triennial elections for the NZNO Board and Officers, members exercise democratic control in this member-run organisation. It’s where we are accountable to you.

There is, however, room for improvement in our democracy. Problems with NZNO’s current voting system will be discussed after lunch, in a presentation from the Voting Strengths Working Party.

A variety of proposals will be put forward, for consideration by all members over the next year. No decisions will be made today. But I ask everyone to listen closely to the various options, and evaluate each of them against the stated goal of creating a “more democratic and equitable process”. The changes we make in 2018 will shape the democracy which we pass on to the next generation.

The 2016/17 NZNO Annual Report also contains an update on implementation of the four policy remits passed last year. Three of those remits have been fully implemented, or are in process.

The fourth, submitted by the Cancer Nurses College, was that: “Clinical Supervision be provided for nurses as per NZNO guidelines and that this should be included in the MECA”

As stated in the 2016 AGM documents: “The remit committee acknowledges the cancer nurses’ wish to have these remits go forward to the AGM although there is a mechanism for including items raised by and important to members who are covered by the DHB MECA.”

“Clinical supervision for nurses as per NZNO guidelines was not included in the claims for DHB MECA bargaining”, says the Annual Report. “This was not identified as a priority by members covered by the DHB MECA.”

I have met with the Cancer Nurses College Committee, to discuss this further.

There are also four policy remits passed at the 2015 AGM still in various stages of implementation. Two years ago, delegates to this meeting voted that: “College and Sections banking systems need to be reviewed and policy formulated to reflect modern electronic banking practices and technologies”. Implementation of this remit is progressing.

You voted: “That new policy be developed to publish the Kai Tiaki in electronic format to align with current technology”. Kai Tiaki will become available in an electronic format following a recently completed review of NZNO’s communications.

You voted: “That NZ Nurses Organisation delegates be given training and support to run MECA Endorsement and Ratification meetings”. As reported in last month’s Kai Tiaki, this was not implemented for the endorsement meetings in May, but following action by the Board it will be implemented in time for upcoming ratification meetings.

In 2015 you voted: “That NZNO continues to prioritise and support campaigns towards nurses and midwives entry to practice programmes, for Registered Nurses, Registered Midwives and Enrolled Nurses, with the campaign goal of 100 per cent employment of new graduates and improved health workforce planning in Aotearoa”.

As I reported here last year, no specific campaign was launched, although some generic campaign activities continued. After last year’s AGM, I again raised this with the Board and presented a supporting letter from NSU/TRT. Given the glacial progress towards our strategic goal, I will continue to advocate for the full implementation of this remit.

Finally, I also remain committed to delivering on pledges I made to members during the last NZNO President election and in my inaugural address:

President's address (to be amalgamated with final slides)4

• To “be accessible to members”, online and in your locality

• To ”make your issues visible… [in] the media”, including on social media

• To “strengthen NZNO’s bicultural partnership”

• To support more members “to actively participate in NZNO membership structures”  – even though, I acknowledged, this means “voluntary work, on top of long hours in paid employment or study – and often after caring for family members as well”.

President's address (to be amalgamated with final slides)5

On this last point, the two co-leaders have commissioned a project to strengthen volunteer sustainability, member engagement and leadership development, after meeting last year with Chairs of Regional Councils, Colleges and Sections, Te Rūnanga and NSU/TRT.

The first fruit of this project to strengthen our waka will be the reinstatement in November of the annual training day for new Chairs and Treasurers. Focus groups were held earlier this year to identify other measures to support participation by our volunteer member leaders. Some of you would have taken part. Over the lunch break, we will update Chairs on themes and next steps in the project.

Here today, we are designing and shaping the keel of our waka to perfection. Working together, our canoe will overcome all obstacles.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

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