Thank you for inviting me to share in this special occasion.
I am sorry I cannot stay, as I have a special role to perform at the Canterbury Champion Awards Ceremony tonight presenting the Special Commendation Award, which will be, I am told, in keeping with the theme of our suffrage celebrations today.
So I’m thrilled to be here, as I really didn’t want to miss the awarding of the Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award. It is one that is near and dear to my heart. When the call went out for additional financial support for the Trust Fund earlier this year, I put my hand up, as I’m sure many of you did too.
A fund that supports educational opportunities for a woman to develop her potential by undertaking further education, study, research or training in areas which are of value in Aotearoa/New Zealand is in keeping with Kate Sheppard’s mission. The vote for women was good for women but it was also good for the country.
I was reminded today of the history of the fund, dating back to the 1993 Suffrage centennial, where the surplus from the fundraising efforts to build the Kate Sheppard National Memorial were made available for this purpose.
There has always been a strong link between the Council and the Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust. The original fundraising campaign’s financial chair was the late Councillor Mollie Clark. And Judith Lady Hay was the patron and convened the fund-raising committee. We remember these women and their hard work. They have left us a legacy to uphold. And I thank Cr Sara Templeton for keeping the connection alive today.
So onto this year’s recipient of the Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Suffrage 125 Award. She is completing a PhD at the University of Canterbury, Health Sciences and the Ngai Tahu Research Centre. Her topic is ‘Raro Timu Raro Tae – Ngai Tahu Birthing Traditions’.
The Awardee’s fascination with indigenous birthing practices and the ongoing public interest in her Master’s thesis and film on traditional Māori birthing practices encouraged her to extend this research with a doctorate at the University of Canterbury. She is currently in her fourth year of study specifically exploring Ngāi Tahu birthing traditions and practices pertaining to conception, pregnancy and birth.
She was fortunate to have her research supported by the NZ Health Research Council, the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre, the Health Science Department, her whānau, her rōpu kaumatua, the Canterbury Māori Midwifery Rōpu and now the Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award.
Her hope is that her research will aid the implementation of Ngāi Tahu birthing knowledge and practices within New Zealand’s maternity services and Southern midwifery education. Plans have already been drawn up to produce resources post her doctorate in order to return the research to the hands of midwives and whānau.
The Awardee is quick to declare that she herself is not a midwife although she has the upmost respect for her colleagues in this field. She is an experienced Registered Nurse currently working for the Canterbury District Health Board in Children and Youth Mental Health. She has completed the Huarahi Whakatū PDRP Programme to expertise level through Te Rau Matatini and has worked for Māori Health Providers and in a variety of clinical areas under the Auckland, Wellington, Otago and Canterbury District Health Boards over a 20-year period.
In 2008, the Awardee decided to expand her nursing into the field of health research and commenced work as a research assistant for the Donald Beasley Institute (a research institute that promotes research and education in the field of disability). She has worked on a number of short and long term national and international research projects as their Māori Researcher and continues to work with the Institute as a Research Associate.
Alongside her health and academic research she thrives off the many creative opportunities that have been presented to her over the years in: radio, film and dance.
She has produced a number of radio documentaries, created short films for exhibitions, danced in Puaka/Matariki (Māori New Year) Performances and generally enjoys viewing or being part of Māori arts in its many expressive forms.
The Awardee is dedicated to her doctoral thesis and describes it like a pregnancy that is both stunning and harrowing, and like her whānau, she is keen for this baby to be born so she can see her research grow and provide a resource for others to grow from too.
The winner of this year’s Kate Sheppard Memorial Award on this 125th anniversary of suffrage is: Kelly Waiana Tikao of Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu.