Mere Tiki Balzer is a descendant of Tuhourangi on her father’s side and Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Ranginui on her mother’s side. She inherited her Balzer surname from her German grandfather, but was inspired by her grandmother who followed her great grandmother, Guide Susan’s footsteps, as a government guide in Whakarewarewa. Her mother and father, a Māori Battalion veteran, raised their Whānau in Rotorua.
Upon leaving school Mere secured a clerical cadetship at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It was there that Mere learnt the foundations of public service and the importance of respect and service. At 19, she took an office position at Tokanui Hospital. There, she married, had children and in 1968, because of the demands of family life, she changed her role to Hospital Aide. When her husband joined the army, she began her training as a Registered Nurse.
Meres education resume includes;
Psychiatric and General Obstetric nurse training,
Teaching certificate from Waikato Teachers Training College
Bachelor’s degree in health science (nursing) (Charles Sturt University)
Post graduate degree in Health Policy, and Development, Waikato University
Master's SocSc (1st class hons) from Waikato University.
Throughout her training and nursing at Tokanui Hospital, Mere was exposed to new psychiatric treatments and therapies, she worked with many renowned Psychiatrists, Māori nurses and Kaumatua. She witnessed the increased numbers of Māori entering Psychiatric Hospitals and over time she and other Psychiatric Nurses at Tokanui and General Nurses in Auckland developed Te Kaunihera o Nga Neehi Māori o Aotearoa.
While teaching at Tokanui, Mere was encouraged and supported to gain a teaching qualification. This eventually led Mere to the development of a tikanga based nursing programme at Waiariki Polytechnic in Rotorua, where she went on to become Head of School for Health and Māori Studies.
In her current role Mere has been instrumental in developing and progressing a number of innovative and leading initiatives including the development of a culturally based Nursing Degree currently offered through Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Māori and Pacific Health Services (Korowai Aroha Health & Kaute Pacifika) and sitting on Boards or committees, including Eastern BOP Ethics Committee, Health Research Council, Māori Standing Committee, Waikato DHB Board member, National Council of Māori Nurses, Health Waikato Advisory committee, and National Urban Māori Authority (NUMA) Executive member. In 2009 Mere was awarded the MNZM for service to Maori. Mere is currently the CEO of Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa Charitable Trust in Hamilton City.