Te Wānanga o Aotearoa works with insurance company to ensure former kaimahi with cancer receives compensation


Ruth Nuku Stanshall received her cancer benefit after Te Wānanga o Aotearoa changed her mind. Photo / Provided

A terminal cancer patient who fought for nine months for insurance pay from her employer, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, received her money after sharing her struggle with Whakaata Māori.

Ruth Nuku Stanshall, 67, who was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in November and given until April to live, had worked for 18 years as a social welfare lecturer at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, a higher education institution in Auckland.

She was deeply disappointed when they initially denied her application for death and disability insurance on the grounds that she was underage, a reasoning she disputed.

Last week, Nuku-Stanshall was contacted by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to let her know her insurance claim had been approved and she had received payment on Monday.

“I hope no one else ever has to go through what I’ve been through, just to get paid. It doesn’t seem fair when we have to fight when we’re not well. We’re not listened to when we are not well.

“Payment means I was heard. That’s the most important thing to me and that’s emotional in itself.”

She says Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has now apologized for putting her through this ordeal and offered to hold a farewell ceremony for her to recognize her 18 years of service.

“The resolution that was met was amicable,” she says.

Nuku-Stanshall says she has received many messages of support and koha from those she has taught and influenced over the years.

“I want to thank kaimahi, tauira, the community, whānau and friends, everyone who came out to support me in my drive on what i was looking for.”

Nuku Stanshall was forced to move from Tauranga to Palmerston North to live with her daughter after she could no longer afford to live in the Bay of Plenty due to illness and inability to work.

She will use the insurance money to pay her bills and build a grandma’s apartment on her daughter’s property.

“It will give me some space and independence for myself.”

She hopes that other staff at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa will not have to go through the same experience she endured.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa’s chief executive, Nepia Winiata, said the institution sends its thoughts and aroha to Nuku-Stanshall.

“We are grateful to have been able to continue to support Whaea Ruth through what has been a very difficult time for her and to work with the insurer to waive the under 65 eligibility criteria, leading to the payment of the terminal illness early political sum this week.”