Attendees at the Student Hui held on 19 September 2009 when the Hiwinui Heke Scholarship Awards were presented. Eleven Students from the Otago University School of Pharmacy joined their counterparts from the Auckland University School of Pharmacy, along with members of Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Puna o Rongoā o Aotearoa - The Māori Pharmacists' Association Inc, representatives of Pharmac, and the University of Otago Student Centre. Matua Hiwinui and Whaea Ema are seated in the front row.
Ngā Kaitiaki was borne following a meeting in 2003 in Wellington, where 12 Māori pharmacists invited to consider a proposal from the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand to establish a "reference group", instead elected to form their own organisation. Links were then formed with Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa (Te ORA) by attending their Annual General Meeting. In gaining support from Te ORA, the attendance also established a relationship with Hauora.com and in turn seeding funding was received from them, which supported a second hui. This was held in Christchurch in the same year and agreement reached by those in attendance to formalise a legal identity for Māori Pharmacists'. The inaugural AGM of Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Puna Rongoā o Aotearoa was held in September 2005 in Auckland and the constitution of the Association was registered on 8 June 2006.
The Māori Pharmacists' Association vision:
To lead Māori responsiveness in the pharmacy sector
Ka piki te wai, ka heke te ua, ka puta te puna, hei rongoā
The mists/water ascend/s (to the heavens),
the rain/s fall/s (from the clouds),
a spring appears and becomes sustenance for all.
Key focus - The role of wai in the continual cycle of life.
The rising of water as mist to Rangi and the falling of water as rain to Papa has multiple parallels in the continual cycle of life itself. One image is of the physical transference of fluids between Rangi and Papa representing copulation itself, leading to life as we know it. On another more concrete metaphorical level this image compares directly to the life giving qualities of wai flowing back and forth from earth to the atmosphere for the obvious benefit of everyone and everything. A further spiritual connotation is mirrored in the notion that we came from Papa when we were born and will return to Rangi when we die. Thus, this particular image has many facets of interest to our hunga. Ngai Tuhoe call themselves the "Children of the Mists" not just because of the foggy cloak that routinely envelopes their lands, but because the mist is their kaitiaki. In Tuhoe legend, the mist is what protects them as they venture across their lands. So on one level, the role of wai is told here as an allegory to life itself and on the other hand it is a true narrative of the physical cycle of water in the environment and thus when the rain falls, a spring is formed.
The allegorical twist returns when the formation of a spring signifies not just the physical presence of a pool of water but also alludes to the fact that wherever there is a healthy source of water, Māori will congregate because they know that this is where they can live in good health. The parable is made contemporary by viewing this story in the light of how a pharmacy, or pharmacist, is seen as a central hub for the source of information and those things that make you healthy.