Each candidate standing for election is required to submit a statement of experience and skills against the criteria in Schedule Four of the NZNO Constitution.
Here is my statement.
1. Desired Qualities
I believe I possess all of the desired qualities which are sought in a President of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa.
My own values are aligned with those of NZNO. I understand good governance, I am careful and diligent and able to think strategically, with good communication skills, honesty and integrity.
I have never been convicted of any criminal offence, either in New Zealand or overseas. I have never been the subject of civil litigation, nor have I been the subject of any disciplinary investigation over my 21-year nursing career.
3.1 Engagement within NZNO and commitment to NZNO Vision
My engagement within NZNO and my commitment to our shared vision can be seen over many years, not only during the term of my Presidency from 2015-18, but in a wide range of roles before that, including:
• Workplace delegate, 2002-15.
• NZNO representative on the DHB Mental Health Bipartite Action Group (BAG) (initially at CCDHB, later covering HVDHB and WDHB also), 2005-15
• Member, DHB Sector National Delegates Committee, 2008-15.
• NZNO representative to the Council of Trade Unions Biennial Conference, 2009, 2011 & 2013.
• Relief Organiser, 2010.
• Chair, Greater Wellington Regional Council, 2010-13.
• Convenor, DHB Sector National Delegates Committee, 2012-15.
• Member, Board of Directors, 2012-13.
• Committee Member & Journal Co-editor, Mental Health Nurses Section, 2014-15.
• Greater Wellington Region rep & Vice-Chair, Membership Committee, 2014-15.
• Member, DHB MECA negotiating team, 2014-15
• Media spokesperson for NZNO, as required.
Through these roles, I was active in NZNO’s Aged Care, Primary Health and Private Hospital Sectors, as well as heading the membership structures in the DHB Sector.
My all-round experience at the highest level in both professional and industrial wings of our union, in governance roles and as an NZNO staff member gave me a thorough grounding in the NZNO Vision, “Freed to care, Proud to nurse”.
3.2 Understanding of nursing and the wider health sector
As NZNO President, I have been privileged to represent nursing on the national and international stage, while keeping up my own clinical practice by working shifts on the ward. I believe this has afforded me a unique understanding of nursing in Aotearoa New Zealand, from the point of care to the corridors to power, never losing touch with the realities at the bedside.
Since 2017, I have also developed my understanding of the wider health sector through postgraduate study in Public Health at the University of Otago, focusing on health systems and health policy.
This all-round understanding has enabled me to represent NZNO to a wide range of external stakeholders including:
• Ministers of Health
• Parliamentary select committees
• Ministry of Health officials
• Local government
• Safe Staffing Healthy Workplaces Unit
• The Nursing Council of New Zealand
• The International Council of Nurses
• The South Pacific Nurses Forum
• Global Nurses United
3.3 Business and commercial acumen
NZNO is a trade union and professional organisation. So conventional commercial acumen, which is geared towards maximising profits and shareholder return through the optimal exploitation of human and material resources, does not best serve our values.
The acumen required is the kind which will safeguard and grow the assets which have been built up by generations of nurses and held in stewardship, in order to support members today and tomorrow. It must be capable of negotiating the challenging legal and political environments facing NZNO today, and use resources for maximum benefit to members.
As President, I believe I have demonstrated such acumen. I have led NZNO’s divestment from fossil fuels, in accordance with the democratic decision made by NZNO members at our AGM, in a way which has not impacted on the performance of our portfolio. I moved the establishment of a strike fund for members likely to experience hardship as a result of industrial action. And as Chair of the Nursing Education and Research Foundation, I have helped to steer the Trust through a major review of its investment strategy, to enable even greater financial support for nurses in generations to come.
Good governance improves performance, manages risk, ensures accountability and enables a strategic perspective. But in a member-run organisation such as ours, special care must be taken to ensure that governance is not at odds with the democratic will of the members.
As a member of the NZNO Board of Directors, I have hands-on experience in the governance of our organisation. I see key functions of governance as including:
• the maintenance of strategic oversight of the environment,
• analysis and communication of salient issues to members,
• empowering the membership to speak up, and
• acting in accordance with their democratic will.
I am a member of the Institute of Directors and participate in IOD Continuing Professional Development activities. Governance skills have also developed through experience in chairing the Board of the Newtown Union Health Service.
3.5 Finance and legal compliance
NZNO members want leaders with a specific kind of financial and legal expertise – one which serves, rather than dominates, our agenda for nursing and health. I believe I have brought this kind of expertise to our organisation.
Over the past three years, as President I have served on NZNO’s Audit & Risk Committee. This committee assists the Board in discharging its responsibilities with respect to overseeing all aspects of financial and non-financial reporting, control and audit functions and organisational risk.
During my Presidency, sound financial planning has this year enabled the smallest annual change in membership fees since 2006. Rising by just 1 percent, which is below projected inflation, the change in 2018/19 subscriptions represents a fee cut for every member, in real terms.
My experience and knowledge in finance and legal compliance has been recognised externally. At the Newtown Union Health Service, a Primary Health Care centre serving union members and high needs populations in Wellington, I am the elected Board Chair and a member of the Audit & Finance Committee. I also serve in a voluntary capacity as the finance officer for the Eco-Socialist Education Trust, Incorporated.
3.6 NZNO’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi Tikanga Māori, Matauranga Māori and NZNO’s commitment to the bi-cultural values and the role of Te Runanga Aotearoa.
Ko “Cornwall” te waka. Ko Ngāti Pākehā te iwi. Nō Ōtepoti ahau. Ko Grant Brookes tōku ingoa.
No individual can embody all of NZNO’s rich diversity. But as a professional, I know the limits of my own cultural knowledge, my obligation to extend those limits and the need to acknowledge the authority of others who hold cultural expertise.
My deep commitment to bi-cultural values, Tikanga Māori and Matauranga Māori grows out of a 19 year history of involvement, including in Kaupapa Māori organisations, in activism to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Standing for election in 2015, I pledged to strengthen NZNO’s bi-cultural relationships. I believe I have worked with Te Rūnanga and its leader, Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku, in a way which reflects Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the best of our bicultural values. Strengthening bicultural relationships across the whole of the organisation remains a work in progress – work which I am determined to complete.
I have studied Te Reo Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and try to model its use inside NZNO. A selection of my published articles on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and bi-cultural values is available on-line.