Continuing nursing through Maori

Bupa Cedar Manor Care Home manager Jane Verry, 90 year-old resident Mary Edwards and caregiver Maribeth Perez. Photo: Daniel Hines.

A former Filipino nurse is right at home in her new role with Maori health.

Maribeth Perez comes from the Philippines, trained as a nurse and worked there and in Singapore for 13 years. She is now almost halfway through a Bachelor of Health Science Maori Nursing.

She says there are similarities between Filipino and Maori culture.

“They were colonised by the English and the Philippines were colonised by so many, Americans, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish. It’s more than in New Zealand but it’s still fresh for them, so we found the similarity from the colonisation itself.”

Whanau and being close with family is another trait that Maribeth picked up on.

“For us we’re so close with family, so it’s not like when you grow old - like 18 - you go out. Your family, your parents tell you: ‘okay you can lead your own life now’. But for us, even if you’re older, you still go back to your family, your parents.”

She says the respect towards the elders is also the same and says she can relate easily to the Maori culture.

She is learning mainstream nursing, based on the western model, but also using the Maori model with whakapapa and a more holistic approach.

Maribeth was also granted a Bupa scholarship to assist with her fees for the three year course.

She has been working at Bupa Cedar Manor Care Home as a caregiver since 2013.

After moving to New Zealand, she stopped nursing to raise a family. When she went to re-enter the nursing profession here, she ran into a number of complications which meant she had to “go back to school”.

She decided to take up a role as a care giver but while she was studying the preparation papers for that, her tutor told her about the Maori nursing course.

She is now into the second year of the three-year course, travelling to Whakatane, three days a week. It will prepare her for registration as a nurse.

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