• Multicultural relationships in supervision

    Here’s an excerpt from a chapter I wrote on culture/ethnicity and supervision, the paragraph seems more than apt these days. “We don’t colonise, these days, through the barrel of a gun, but through the comfortable words of those who change the hearts, minds and spirits of people” (Waldegrave, 2001). Supervision provides a powerful learning environment that helps…

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  • Regulating migrant maternity: Nursing and midwifery’s emancipatory aims and assimilatory practices

    I’ve just had the first paper from my PhD published: DeSouza, R. (2013), Regulating migrant maternity: Nursing and midwifery’s emancipatory aims and assimilatory practices. Nursing Inquiry. doi: 10.1111/nin.12020 In contemporary Western societies, birthing is framed as transformative for mothers; however, it is also a site for the regulation of women and the exercise of power relations by…

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  • Refugee women in New Zealand: Findings and recommendations

    Today on International Women’s Day, it seems apt to share this article that I wrote on behalf of our research team for the Women’s Health Action Update, volume 16, Number 43, December 2012. Women’s Health Action is a charitable trust, that works to “provide women with high quality information and education services to enable them to…

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  • How can we better support new mothers to sing?

    I am a member of the Perinatal Mental Health New Zealand Trust (PMHNZ) whose vision is to : “improve outcomes for families and whanau affected by mental illness related to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood”. They produce a quarterly newsletter that includes information about research, training, workshops and courses, innovative projects and services, topics for discussion and stories. It…

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  • Finding more humane solutions: New Zealand’s refugee deal with Australia

    Last weekend the New Zealand government made a deal with Australia to take 150 asylum seekers held in Australian detention facilities. New Zealand accepts the fifth highest number (equal with Canada) of refugees per capita, but this move reduces the number of refugees selected through New Zealand’s quota of 750 by 150 (600 refugees a year…

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  • Unsettled in Australia: Reflections on my first Australia/Straya/Invasion day

    My first stuffed toy as a child in Nairobi was a koala bear and I’ve been besotted with them ever since. So you can imagine that I was captivated by this meme where the koala realises that she’s not a bear but a marsupial. To draw a very long bow, I think her puzzlement captures…

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  • Migrant support for Idle No More

    When my parents were considering migrating from East Africa, their focus was on the white settler contexts of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. For a bunch of reasons I won’t go into here, they settled on Aotearoa New Zealand. A part of me always felt like my life would have been better if we’d…

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  • Xenoglossophobia: Speak English or die

    So if you really want to hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity—I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself —Gloria Anzaldua. Language maintenance and pluralism mean different things to different groups. Multilingualism is an act of…

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  • A smile and more: Improving Asian health in Auckland

    Many years ago I remember talking to an older Chinese woman in Wellington about a presentation I was going to give about cultural safety. When I gave her a slightly academic and jargon laden explanation, she said to me: “Ruth, it’s really simple, you just have to smile at people”. I’ve never forgotten her words…

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  • A fair go? Using liberal principles to support Islamophobia and racism.

    I am interested in the issue of fairness. Anyone with siblings might be I would think. Whether it’s about making sure everyone gets an equally sized piece of cake or equal chances to speak, fairness has been a driving force in my life that I might have inherited.  As one of three daughters it was very important…

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  • Refugee women on their own in New Zealand: Uncommon courage

    Recently the report  “Doing it for ourselves and our children: Refugee women on their own in New Zealand” was launched in Auckland, New Zealand. The project was jointly undertaken by AUT University and Refugee Services New Zealand with the support, guidance and practical assistance of the three Strengthening Refugee Voices groups in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. It…

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  • Sisters, friends or whānau?

    This is a lengthier version of an editorial published in this month’s Kai Tiaki New Zealand Nursing Journal. It is based on an invited address I gave at the 10th Annual Conference of the Women’s Health Section:’Divine Secrets of the Sisterhood’ on April 26th  2012. I recently spoke at the NZNO Women’s health conference about sisterhood. Not that…

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  • Questions haunt nursing student

    In 2007 a student nurse called Lisa Kenyon wrote to the Kai Tiaki asking questions about nursing. I’ve reprinted her letter here and then my response. It seems relevant at the moment I am a year-one nursing student from Waiariki Institute of Technology, doing my bachelor of nursing at Windermere in Tauranga. I have recently…

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  • A level playing field? Sport and racism

    At the weekend it was my parents’ wedding anniversary. They got married in Dar es Salaam and one of the distinguishing features of their wedding was the hockey stick “guard of honour” that their friends created for them outside the church after the service (my Mum played hockey for Tanzania). The family capability and Goan cultural propensity to excel at sport (take…

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  • Food and festivals: Consuming multiculturalism

    Multiculturalism has acquired a quality akin to spectacle. The metaphor that has displaced the melting pot is the salad. A salad consists of many ingredients, is colorful and beautiful, and it is to be consumed by someone. Who consumes multiculturalism is a question begging to be asked. Angela Y. Davis (1996, p. 45) WOMAD main…

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  • Celebrating African women in Aotearoa New Zealand

    I was honoured to be invited by the African Community Forum Incorporated to attend and speak at an event on March 10th 2012 to celebrate International Women’s Day. I have written elsewhere about my links with East Africa. Briefly, I was born in Tabora Tanzania and lived in Nairobi, Kenya until the age of ten, when my…

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  • Postnatal depression in the Year of the Dragon

    Women are more likely to develop emotional problems after childbirth than at any other time in their lives and the life time prevalence of major depression in women is almost twice that of men (Kohen, 2001). According to Lumley et al. (2004), one out of every six women experiences a depressive illness in the first…

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  • When activists become oppressors: Nurses and migrant mothers.

    This Sunday I’ll be doing a Picnic lecture where I’ll be sharing stories from nurses and migrant mothers from my PhD to discuss how well intentioned activism can become a form of oppression. The lecture will be held in the Albert Park rotunda in Auckland on Sunday 1st April at 3pm and is linked with Te…

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  • When helping does not help: Invisible children and colonialism

    In almost thirty years of being a nurse I’ve learned that what one person thinks is helpful can be coercive to another. “Help” is complex, raising questions such as: how has the helper negotiated the relationship? Does the helper understand the problem? Do the people being helped agree with the helper’s framing of the problem?…

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  • New mothers in a new land: Indian migrant mothers talk

    Originally published in: DeSouza, R. (2010). New mothers in a new land: Indian migrant mothers talk. In S. Bandyopadhyay (Ed.), India in New Zealand: Local identities, global relations (pp. 207-217). Dunedin: Otago University Press. Ethnic identity and acculturation become important issues in the transition to parenthood. The birth of a child presents parents with the opportunity…

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