Year: 1959 - 1962
Occupation: Nurse, Educator & Scholar
Irihapeti trained as a registered general and obstetric nurse at Wellington Hospital. She worked in a range of areas including general nursing, respiratory medicine and public health before moving into nursing education. She is perhaps best known in Aotearoa and internationally for the development of Cultural Safety – an educational framework for the analysis of power relationships between health professionals and those they serve – the subject of her PhD. Cultural Safety has been part of the New Zealand nursing and midwifery curriculum since 1992 and comprises 20% of the state registration examination for all nurses and midwives. Irihapeti negotiated the foundations for developing a process of ownership of the Cultural Safety curriculum between Otago Polytechnic and Ngai Tahupotiki iwi, an early example of exercising intellectual property rights. The International Council of Nurses, the oldest and largest international professional organization in the health field, representing nurses and nursing in 118 countries, recommended in 1995 that Cultural Safety be included in the education programmes of all national nurses associations. She was a Council member of Lincoln University and sat on a number of other committees including the Health Sponsorship Council, the Ethics Committee and the Maori Health Committee of the Health Research Council of New Zealand, the executive committee of the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand and the New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Irihapeti had a long standing interest and involvement in asthma research and asthma service development. She was a member of the Ministerial Maori Asthma Review Team in 1991, and a member of the Maori Committee of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand. Another area of interest was bioethics. Irihapeti was a Teaching Fellow in Bioethics at the Otago Medical School, Bioethics Research Centre and in 1997 she was appointed as the New Zealand representative to the International Board of Bioethics. Just weeks before her death Irihapeti was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to nursing and Maori health.