In response to an urgent need within New Zealand’s health sector to have a ‘by Pacific for Pacific’ approach to improve spiralling statistics, Whitireia Community Polytechnic has appointed a new programme manager to lead its Bachelor of Nursing - Pacific - programme. This is the first time a person of Pacific descent has led the programme since its inception in 2004.
Tania Mullane, of Fiji and Tongan heritage, has joined Whitireia to take on this exciting position, which moves from the School of Health and Social Sciences at Whitireia to sit within the Pacific Strategy Group, reporting directly to the organisation's Chief Advisor Pacific Strategy, Jean Mitaera.
“By bringing someone like Tania into our teaching fanau, we are responding to the health sector’s dire need for building the Pacific health workforce,” says Jean. “Tania is our first Pacific programme manager for this nursing programme and it marks an important step forward for Pacific leadership at Whitireia. Tania represents a perfect blend of clinical and academic experience with an appropriate cultural background.”.
Commenting on her new role, Tania said: “There are a growing number of Pacific people who come from mixed descent, and as I myself am a woman of diverse Pacific heritage, I understand the journey of self-discovery that determines most of our learners,” says Tania. “I am really excited that Whitireia recognises the need for a programme as important as nursing to have the curriculum enveloped in Pacific culture and ways.
“For me, what is at the core of any teaching success is understanding who the learner is, and in this case, also who the end-service user - or patient - is,” says Tania.
Tania started her career as a community Plunket nurse, has a nursing degree, and spent time in academic roles at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology (previously Waiariki) and Manukau Institute of Technology. Most recently, Tania has been leading workforce development at Auckland South Corrections Facility.
“In mid-September the Nursing Council of New Zealand will meet with us to assess the new Bachelor of Nursing Pacific curriculum, which has meant that Tania has had to quickly engage with key stakeholders, support the refinement of the curriculum and develop professional relationships with her teaching team and colleagues within the wider Whitireia School of Health and Social Services,” says Jean.
“While there has been an increase in culturally specific teaching and learning across all levels, we need more of it to ensure better outcomes for our Pacific students, families and communities,” says Jean. “I am very excited that Tania can be part of growing this effective workforce, especially in the health sector - where Pacific people are over-represented at the negative end of the statistics.”