If not for yourself, encourage and support your children


Ko Hikurangi me Puketapu oku maunga 

Ko Waiapu me Te Arai oku awa

Ko Ngati Porou me Rongowhakaata oku iwi

Ko Tikapa me Pahou oku marae


Gretel McKenzie is a GI Clinical Nurse Specialist for Surgical Services at Hauora Tairāwhiti.

Inspiration from her mother, a community nurse in the ’70s, and constant encouragement from her father meant that nursing was always on the cards. Gretel took up a Bachelor of Nursing programme through Wellington Polytech. After graduating, she was accepted into the new graduate programme at Hauora Tairāwhiti. She spent the next two and a half years here as a Theatre Nurse before moving to the UK.

Sadly, in 2011, Gretel’s mum, Kune, was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer, so she moved home to look after her. Gretel was excited about returning home and building on experience she had gained during her ten years as a nurse in the UK.

In 2019, Gretel thought it was time to do something different. Theatre nursing was enjoyable, but she never got to relate with whānau or see the results of her hard work. Gretel is now part of the Surgical Nursing team, looking after whānau afflicted with cancer. She engages with families virtually and kanohi ki te kanohi, breaking down diagnoses into layman’s terms from the moment they enter the hospital until they are well enough to discharge to their homes. Reassuring and educating people can be immensely challenging, but Gretel enjoys and relishes the opportunity to support whānau when they are most vulnerable.

Gretel is now at a point where she wants to develop herself and study further. There are two great sources of inspiration for her to do so. The first is her daughter.

Gretel often spends time studying side by side with her daughter, and shows her what it means to care for nannies and papa’s. Gretel hopes to teach her daughter what it means to have a good work ethic and why it is important to be empathetic. The second is her cousin, a mother of 8, now studying toward a Bachelor of Nursing herself.

Gretel is currently paying her own way toward a Nursing Certificate and will apply for a Postgraduate Diploma in Registered Nurse Prescribing for next year. Her eventual goal is to enrol in a Master’s programme.

Gretel advises adult learners that “University is more accessible now compared with back in the day. If not for yourself, encourage and support your children by giving them options. Many great people are demonstrating that we can do it. Link up with them and share their achievements with others. Take photos of success. Surround yourself with people who are doing great things.”

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