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Caring for our tamariki: Paunu clinics receive timely boost

Friday 24 June 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Health, National

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Caring for our tamariki: Paunu clinics receive timely boost
Volunteer Services Abroad Plunket Nurse Molly Dalton from New Zealand at the Tepuka Paunu clinic with Mama Mamatira Patia and her grandchildren Moerai Patia and Metua-Aroha Patia. Photo: SUPPLIED/22062309

The Paunu clinics which resumed after 18-month pause caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has received a timely boost.

For generations, families in the Cook Islands have taken their babies to the “Paunu” clinic in their local village.

At Paunu, children’s growth, development and general wellbeing is monitored, as well as checking in with parents and caregivers about any concerns they have for their tamariki.

After an 18-month pause on its service during the Covid-19 response, the Paunu has been back up and running now for the past two weeks.

Many families are coming through the doors to have their children’s health assessed, some families being new to the Paunu service, and some returning.

Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA) Plunket Nurse Molly Dalton from New Zealand is currently working alongside the Cook Islands Child Welfare Association to support its development.

“We are very grateful to Molly who will be here to share her experience, support our volunteers and run capacity-building workshops,” said Association president Rose Kairua.

Kairua said having a Plunket Nurse would be of huge benefit and the Child Welfare Association was looking forward to future collaborative initiatives with Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health and VSA.

“What we are working towards is getting really good energy back into the Paunu and the Child Welfare Association.

“We want to see mums and parents interested in the Paunu, its benefits and being actively involved in the welfare of all our children,” said Kairua.

VSA Plunket Nurse Molly Dalton from New Zealand meets Luca Brogan at Paunu. Photo: Supplied/22062311

Originally from Wellington, Dalton has worked as a Plunket Nurse for the past four years.  

She is passionate about delivering evidence-based practice to best meet the health needs of all children and caregivers.

Dalton spent the past four weeks in Rarotonga familiarising herself with Child Welfare Association, meeting the members and TMO nurses, and attending a number of Paunu clinics.

“I feel very lucky to be here. People are friendly, generous and have been very welcoming,” she said.

The Cook Island Child Welfare Association, established in 1933, is one of the oldest non-profit voluntary organisations in the Cook Islands.

Generations of Cook Islanders have benefitted from being under the watchful eyes of nurses and the Child Welfare volunteers, Kairua said.

The Association currently works in collaboration with public health nurses at Te Marae Ora to deliver the Paunu clinics for families with children aged 0-4 years.