In 2018, Brain Research New Zealand (BRNZ) started on an exciting and slightly daunting journey adopting a formal programme to improve our cultural competency.
It is well known that Māori suffer from worse health outcomes compared to other New Zealanders, due in part to difficulties accessing appropriate and culturally competent health services. BRNZ recognises that we can play a part in removing some of the barriers and improve health care services for Māori, and there’s no better starting point than starting with ourselves and educating our own people.
BRNZ has adopted the Takarangi Cultural Competency programme as a framework for our researchers and clinicians to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to provide culturally competent research and health care services. Led by Whaea Moe Milne and her whānau, the Takarangi Framework offers participants a tool against which they can measure their current level of cultural competency in working with Māori, and a pathway to further build up their competency.
The programme introduces participants to the 14 competencies of the Takarangi framework (for example, te Reo, waiata and karakia), demonstrates how they can self-assess their current level, and how they can reach the next stage of competency. Whaea Moe also places high importance on how the competencies can be applied in a professional context.
After a trial run in 2018 and a first series of Takarangi wānanga in 2019, BRNZ offered more sessions to our members in 2020. In October and November, Chelsea Cunningham organised overnight wānanga in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), Ōtautahi (Christchurch) and Ōtepoti (Dunedin), as well as one-day workshop in Christchurch that focused on engaging with Māori. 30 BRNZ researchers and clinicians attended the wānanga, with several members from Christchurch attending for the second time. The wānanga catered to their previous experience and focused on extending their knowledge base further and looking at the assessor process.
It has been encouraging to see our people be curious, engaged and proactive – even beyond the wānanga. We hear that some have been attending Te Reo Māori and Tikanga classes as a group – ka mau te wehi!
After two years of embarking on our Takarangi journey, it is evident that cultural competency is an ongoing process. While it may sometimes seem hard and even scary, it’s a journey that we’re all on together, steering the waka in the same direction.