Substantial health disparities exist between Māori—the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand—and non-Māori New Zealanders. This article explores the experience and impact of racism on Māori registered nurses within the New Zealand health system.


The narratives of 15 Māori registered nurses were analyzed to identify the effects of racism. This Māori nursing cohort and the data on racism form a secondary analysis drawn from a larger research project investigating the experiences of indigenous health workers in New Zealand and Canada. Jones’s levels of racism were utilized as a coding frame for the structural analysis of the transcribed Māori registered nurse interviews.


Participants experienced racism on institutional, interpersonal, and internalized levels, leading to marginalization and being overworked yet undervalued.

Discussion and Conclusions

Māori registered nurses identified a lack of acknowledgement of dual nursing competencies: while their clinical skills were validated, their cultural skills—their skills in Hauora Māori—were often not. Experiences of racism were a commonality. Racism—at every level—can be seen as highly influential in the recruitment, training, retention, and practice of Māori registered nurses.


Implications for Practice

The nursing profession in New Zealand and other countries of indigenous peoples needs to acknowledge the presence of racism within training and clinical environments as well as supporting indigenous registered nurses to develop and implement indigenous dual cultural-clinical competencies.