Out of Office

Writing a waiata fit for a Prime Minister might seem daunting.

But West Coast DHB music therapist Heather Fletcher rose to the challenge when her choir was asked to perform at the opening of Te Nīkau Hospital and Health Centre in Greymouth in September.

“We were given ten days notice and I thought we don’t really have something with a New Zealand theme to sing so I will have to write something.”

The PSA member conducted the performance of her song Te Nīkau at the opening.

She says it was a great honour for herself and the members of the Waiata Koha Community Choir.

“They had a fantastic time, it was the highlight of their singing careers to be able to perform for the Prime Minister.”


Heather is no stranger to composing, writing songs with clients and music to support therapy goals.

She works in areas including child development and mental health, adult neurological conditions, and dementia care.

“I love the variety. One moment I can be playing musical games with pre-schoolers and the next I’m singing songs from the 1940s with people with dementia.”

Heather says it’s an exciting time in music therapy, as advances in neurological research enable us to see what’s happening in the brain when people engage in musical activities. This is explaining why someone who has lost the ability to speak can still sing a song, for instance.

It is now known that when we listen to music, certain areas of the brain come online, including those that decode sound and language, process emotions, and plan movement.

Music therapists can harness this to help clients learn or re-learn skills that have been lost through brain injury.

“The beauty of music is that we don’t necessarily need words to communicate, which is especially useful when working with people who have communication difficulties.

“Music is also a great motivator and makes therapy more fun – for the client and the therapist!” 


As an Allied Health professional, Heather is part of a multi-disciplinary team that supports health goals.

She says while Allied Health professions require a high level of training and clinical skills, there has been a lack of recognition in the past.

But she says regular briefings provided by the Ministry of Health to Allied Health professionals during the Covid lockdown show that may be changing.

“It ensured we were all singing from the same song sheet.”


The PSA has an equal pay claim for DHB Allied, Public Health & Technical workers.

Also in this issue:

Building Our Future

It was our biggest Congress ever, with more than 200 delegates gathering in Wellington to debate, network and make plans that will guide the future of our union.

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Welcome to our New President

We extend a warm welcome to Benedict Ferguson who has been elected as our new president by delegates at Congress 2020.

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News in Brief

An interim offer for the DHB admin pay equity claim, new collective agreements in the Public Service, and a new leadership line-up for our union feature in our News in Brief.

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What can we expect from the new Government?

With a new Government now in place it’s timely for the PSA to consider what we can expect, and what we would like to achieve in the next three years.

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"Our Māori membership stands proud"

Delegates at Hui Taumata came away feeling inspired and empowered to make a difference for their workmates and their people.

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"A Champion of the Vulnerable"

Allan Franks says he felt “privileged and a bit overwhelmed” to receive the Marlene Pitman Award at Hui Taumata, the PSA Māori Congress.

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Delivering on Equal Pay

The PSA is taking a two-track approach to delivering on pay equity - using the force of new law to settle claims and new guidance to end discrimination.

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Rebuilding a Spirit of Universalism

Thanks to all our members who supported the PSA’s Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment during the election campaign. We’ll be continuing this campaign for a commitment to universal basic services.

Here’s why writer and campaigner Max Harris believes universalism is so important.

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Unions Unite for Home Support

The wider union movement has thrown it’s support behind the They Deserve the Best Campaign for home support that gives dignity to our most vulnerable people.

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PSA members were among the winners in Te Kawa Mataaho's Public Service Day Awards this year.

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Bring On the Holidays!

After the most challenging of years, many of us are counting the days until we can take a well-deserved break.

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HealthCarePlus brings Bikes for Good

Christchurch kids and their bikes will benefit from a PSA HealthCarePlus Grant for Good.

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"It's an eye opener"

The two researchers delving into the findings of our Mana Wahine Treaty Claim survey shared their own experiences of discrimination with Working Life.

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Saving Livelihoods

The Covid-19 pandemic is estimated to have claimed the equivalent of 235 million jobs across the Asia Pacific region.

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"There is a fear of being open about who we are"

The right to work is a fundamental human right - but people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics (SOGIESC) continue to experience discrimination in workplaces which can sometimes force them to leave.

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Rostering for Wellbeing

Members at a mental health unit in Auckland are “stoked” about their new roster system.

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He Uiui Raumati

Nau mai ki tēnei Uiui Raumati - Summer Quiz

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Around & About

Pink is the theme for our photo pages this issue thanks to the anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day and the DHB admin pay equity claim Pink Tuesdays.

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The Last Word

Retiring national secretary Glenn Barclay looks back on a time of growth and change at the helm of New Zealand’s largest union

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