Maureen Allan, who lives at Houhora and works as the clinical manager for Whakawhiti Ora Pai, has been recognised for her years of dedication to nursing with Te Akenehi Hei Memorial Award.

The Runanga o Aotearoa New Zealand Nursing Organisation award is presented to Maori nurses who have made a 'significant contribution to Mori health' at the organisation's annual general meeting and conference, this year held in Wellington, which heard that Ms Allan had had a long, outstanding career in community health and was an inspiration to others.

"This year's recipient of Te Akenehi Hei Award has an outstanding and extensive nursing career which spans 30 years," NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said.

"Maureen Allan has worked across all health sectors, including Northland DHB, Te Tai Tokerau Primary Health Organisation and iwi health providers in the region. She has dedicated her nursing career to working with hapu and iwi, and is an inspiration to her whnau.

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"Maureen served a term on the Northland DHB and seven years on a DHB advisory committee. She was the first manager of Te Hauora o te Hiku o te Ika, and spent eight years with Te Tai Tokerau PHO, establishing three adolescent health clinics in Kaitaia, and was the first Mori clinical integration leader at the PHO."

Ms Allan (Te Rarawa, Ngapuhi, Tainui) began her career at Kaitaia Hospital as an enrolled nurse in 1986, and continued with her formal education, graduating with a Master's degree in nursing (with honours) in 2004.

In hearing that she had received the award, she acknowledged the strong, vibrant, "no nonsense" women who had guided and encouraged her early in her career, including the late Muriwai Popata, the late Tere Gravenor, and Lynette Stewart, the current CEO for Ki a Ora Ngatiwai. She also included her many nursing colleagues who had "walked the same pathway," saying she received the award on behalf of all Maori nurses across Te Tai Tokerau, and dedicated it to them.

Te Akenehi Hei Memorial Award commemorates the first Maori nurse who registered under her Maori name in 1908. The criteria considered are rangatiratanga (influencing positive change through leadership), whanaungatanga (establishing caring relationships), kaitiakitanga (empowering and supporting others into education), and kotahitanga (promoting unity and establishing networks).

Recipients hold the taonga for two years, and on its return receive a medallion and are awarded life membership to the Runanga o Aotearoa New Zealand Nursing Organisation.