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The Plunket Society was founded in 1907, in Dunedin, by child health reformer Sir Frederic Truby King, with the vision of helping mothers and saving babies who were dying from malnutrition and disease.
A little-known part of Plunket’s history is that Maori midwives Mere Harper and Ria Tikini, of Karitane, worked closely with Sir Truby in the early 1900s, to establish the service.
Plunket chief executive Amanda Malu — Mere Harper’s great great granddaughter — said if it was not for the work of the two Ngai Tahu women, Plunket would not be here today.
She said their work had been overlooked by the history books, and even Plunket’s own storytelling.
"So today’s brand launch is also about acknowledging and apologising for this, and raising the story of these women.
"I am proud that Plunket is finally honouring its true whakapapa by celebrating the two Maori women at the very heart of its beginnings."
Ms Malu said Plunket had had the same visual identity for the past 20 years and it no longer matched the organisation’s present direction and strategy.
"We’re a universal service and we will always be there for all Kiwi babies ... But we have made a very clear strategic decision that our priority is on achieving equitable health outcomes for Maori while continuing to deliver that universal service.
"Plunket is committed to doing better for Maori."
The new brand shows three hearts coming together to represent Plunket’s caring role within whanau, and its primary focus being on the physical and emotional wellbeing of the child.
The tohu inside the brand was specifically created for Plunket — the first acknowledged Mere Harper and Ria Tikini, and the second symbolised the nurturing and integral relationship with whanau.
As part of the rebranding, Plunket and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu had partnered to offer an annual $3000 scholarship to a full-time nursing student of Ngai Tahu descent in their final year of study.
The Mere Harper and Ria Tikini Memorial Scholarship was another way Plunket was honouring their legacy and shared history, while helping to equip the next generation of Maori nurses.