Once we arrived at the clinic, we were greeted by the Maori with prayer and a song in which they sang for us. The Maori believe it to be a gift given to us to learn their culture and medicine that we as students are receiving. In order to give a gift back of our gratitude, we sang the song Lean On Me. We thought this song fit well with how we as students need to lean on each other, build each other up, and take care of one another. In Maori, this is called Mana. What was really cool was they sang with us because they felt the same way! After singing our song, we received the Honge, (touch of the nose and forehead), which symbolizes “coming together,” becoming one with each other, and becoming part of the Maori family. We all introduced ourselves and then to finish the Welcoming, the Maori prepared Kai, which means the sharing of food. We were able to talk with these healthcare workers and get an insight of not only New Zealand’s healthcare, but how this clinic was started and the trials and improvements that have been made and the issues they are currently facing. The whole experience was incredible and I cannot put into words the impact this experience has left on not just me, but all of the nursing students on this trip. We as future nurses will be able to bring back to the US the ability to become a well rounded person by being able to step out of our comfort zones, building trusting relationships with different people within the community and building a stronger network within communities. All of this leading to us creating a stronger and more meaningful connection with our patients.
Today the Biology and the Health students split off into groups. It started off a bit bumpy with the bus deciding it wasn't going to work for us. But amazing Doug, found cabs for the nursing students and a mechanic for the bus. As we waited on the bus the Bio students went out to the beach with Doug and looked and discussed the effects of dunes, erosion, and tsunami energy forces. We also discussed the differences between the US and New Zealand with the personal responsibilities, engagement and environmental focus. The Bus then was fixed and we headed to the rainforest.
We started off going over the importance of the rainforest and the four stages of growth in the forest plants and animals. We looked at a mini forest in the middle of what is know as the Historic Village (Which is an area of many little shops), which has been manipulated by humans and is what is left of the forests in the area. We then traveled to a rainforest preserve where we continued our discussions on rainforest well being and importance. We also learned a bunch of fun facts about Kiwis from the Kiwi orchard right next to the rainforest. Then we set up the Trakka Tunnels; which are small plastic tunnels with an ink pad, white “paper” and Peanut butter on them, and with these we are looking at tracks left by critters when they walk through the tunnels to get to the peanut butter. So in a day or two we will go back and grab the pads to look at and identify the tracks seen.
The Health students then joined us and we all headed over to the Historic Village again. From here Doug was telling us about the importance of that village being a community. He mentioned it was a safe place for the mental disordered people to come and enjoy. He also went over how the idea of investing in people is a large focus of the culture and that they teach, so others with pass it on. Also at the village, we planted native plants called Flax plants (not the flax seeds that we know). This was to give back to the village and continue to help both people and wildlife. Doug also shared that there are many people who help with the planting/growing of plants including different groups that are able to learn and give back like we did.
- Anna Bush