Emotional start to nurses’ forum in Cook Islands

Nurse Apii Mateariki and Health minister Rose Brown.

RAROTONGA (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) – There was plenty of vibrant colours, and an equal amount of emotion at the opening of the 19th South Pacific Nurses’ Forum in Rarotonga.

The forum was opened by Health minister Rose Toki-Brown who told participants, “This is your day; this is about you. We are one; we are the blue Pacific, we are family.”

“Nurses are the moral compass of the health services we provide. May your light continue to shine.”

Brown said she was confident that nursing governance was strong in the region and she congratulated all Pacific countries that had established nursing schools.

The minister also paid tribute to some of the original Cook Islands nurses who had passed on, in the course of their careers.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief Nurse Officer and former Cook Islands Health secretary Liz Iro delivered the keynote address.

Before speaking, an emotional Iro was honoured with a surprise dance and gift ceremony from Cook Islands nurses, acknowledging her achievements.

Iro acknowledged two key individuals who she said had been instrumental in forming the nursing alliance, former director of Public Health Dr Neti Tamarua Herman, and Professor Jill White from Australia.

The first guest speaker was Cook Islands Nursing Association (CINA) president Nga Manea who welcomed delegates.

Manea reiterated the conference theme: “Transforming leadership to nurses as change agents for non-communicable diseases.”

The second speaker, Chief Nursing Officer Ngariki Teaea, will also chair the South Pacific Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers Alliance (SPCNMOA) for the first time and is looking forward to some energetic debates.

“Nurses and midwifes are the heroes – often the only health professionals covering isolated areas such as our outer islands.”

The conference will end on Thursday.

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