It's hard to write a simple description of Lale Alldred's new Maori liaison job at North Haven Hospice.
Although she's started in the newly developed role, called Te Tumu Manaaki, the job is still in the making, "a blank canvas". On the other hand, it encompasses a familiar, long-standing role for the Maori woman who has worked as a nurse at North Haven for the past 17 years.
"I had to stretch myself from being a nurse to being there for the family. I did a lot of listening," Lale said. "This role's been a long time coming, but I used to be called on a lot to do what will be my job now."
Te Tumu Manaaki, the name bestowed by te reo expert Erima Henare, translates into "a solid, compassionate, embracing foundation" in English.
In developing the position, North Haven is reaching out to a part of the community that has often been reluctant to take up the hospice's services.
"It's about encouraging and enabling Maori to access specialist skills at home, and letting them know that hospice is here for them too," Lale said. "I'll be breaking down barriers. It's unbelievable how many Maori people don't understand the hospice kaupapa."
It's a free service and available to anyone who needs it, Lale will tell people. She aims to educate about the services the hospice can provide, and stress that it is geared toward care at home during what the hospice terms "life limiting illness".
With respite and other support available for caregivers, in-hospice care for patients if needed, and modern treatments and pain relief, the main message is really about sharing the caring, and making that life limiting illness as easy to bear as possible.
Lale will use her palliative nursing experience to help identify and advise about what a patient's and family's needs are, and use her new position to bring people together and get processes rolling.
"I grew up at the feet of my grandparents, where I learned the old ways. I'm continuing now to do what Maori have traditionally done for their whanau, and I'll also be doing it as nurse."
The North Haven Hospice at Tikipunga sits on a sacred, healing site well known to the local iwi Ngati Hau forebears, she said. It's a symbol of Maori tradition as well as an example of Maori and Pakeha networks that will be woven together to provide North Haven's Te Tumu Manaaki.
And it's a job Lale Alldred is excited about getting stuck into.
The North Haven Hospice, based in Tikipunga, has 32 community and in-patient nurses.
This week the Northern Advocate is running stories marking Hospice Awareness Week, which runs to Friday. In tomorrow's Advocate, Lindy Laird chats with Doreen Alexander, the North Haven Hospice volunteer who is 93 years young.