Journal of Professional Nursing

Where are the Maori Nurses who were to become those Efficient Preachers of the Gospel of Health?

Maureen Holdaway, RGON, BA, Lecturer Nursing Studies Department, Massey University

Reference:  Holdaway, M. (1993). Where are the Maori Nurses who were to become those “Efficient Preachers of the Gospel of Health?”. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 8(1), 25-34.


In an article published in Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, Pamela Wood outlines the 1898 scheme for educating Maori nurses.  This article gives an overview of the history of the nursing programme for Maori women.  Wood states that “Far from being attempts to smooth the pillow of a dying race, [this programme was] grounded in a real concern to improve Maori health”.  I seek here to contribute to the debate on the development of Maori nursing education in New Zealand between the years of 1900 and 1910.  In my opinion Maori nurses did not become ‘efficient preachers’ not because of lack of will, but rather because of the inequalities which existed between Pakeha and Maori nurse training schemes.  The ‘separatist’ approach to the training of the Maori nurses, and the universal belief in the ‘native’ inability to learn, ‘native’ being a generic term for all races other than European, led to a scheme which failed to provide the number of Maori nurses envisaged at its inception.  In little more than a decade from the scheme’s inception to its Health Department launch the ideal of training for Maori women was abandoned.

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