Nurse trainee Tima Watene from Hastings works in the Waikato Hospital in the ward where children with infectious diseases are treated.
Some people feel at home in hospitals and some do not. Some like one young crippled girl who has been in the Waikato Hospital from birth, have to feel at home in their ward; they have no other home. For the nurses, hospital life is quite unlike any other job outside; to begin with, the tempo is different: without interruption things have to be done and done quickly according to a very strict timetable; then, it has its own peculiar excitement. The work is done deftly and rhythmically and nurses derive a definite pleasure out of being master of their apparently so harrowing situation; and then the people you make so comfortable usually feel good about you so you can feel good about things in general.
Te Ao Hou found very quickly there was no opportunity for interviewing the nurses in the
Waikato Hospital; everybody had just five minutes in which something or other had to be done and of this space of time we were given about thirty seconds. But this seemed as it ought to be; we came away feeling rather guilty that we were not patients.
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We saw enough to realise how easily the Maori nurses fit into what would seem such an alien environment. People talk about the ‘Maori idea of time’ (which is supposedly very slow) but in the hospital the Maori nurses seem to have the same breathtaking idea of time as every one else and without any particular strain. Away from hospital, some of the girls manage to keep their contact with Maori life going; quite a few are members of the Maori Youth Club in Frankton.
It is of course long ago since Maoris began to enter the nursing profession and some such as Miss Paora and Mrs Babbington have already given a full lifetime of service and are retired, while others too many to mention have made successful careers in nursing. Throughout the country, 85 Maori nurses are in training at present.
Miss Cameron, Director of Nursing, in the Health Department told Te Ao Hou that she would like as many Maori girls as possible succeed as nurses and she thinks that any Maori girl with three or four years' good secondary education can qualify if she tries. But secondary school training is all-important, says Miss Cameron, because it develops habits of concentration and study necessary for success in nursing.