Quanita Kawana is a nurturer by nature. After being told frequently throughout her teen years that she should become a nurse, she made a 180-degree career change to do just that.
“I was a chef for 14 years, mostly in Australia. At the time, my son was four, and I decided we needed a change of scenery, so we moved home to Wairarapa. The following year I enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing programme
at the Wairarapa campus, and I’ve never looked back.”
“My time studying was awesome. The teaching staff were so supportive and always took the time to help when I needed it. The wider team there all played a part too. Riki and Maxine were in the background providing extra support, and the librarians allowed me to make the HUB my second home. I was there so often!” she laughs. “I still have great relationships with my tutors and am often in touch with them.”
Work placements are a crucial element for any nursing student. Quanita reflects on her placements and says she was fortunate to spend most of hers in Hutt and Wellington hospitals. “We don’t have a lot of options in this part of the country, so I am pleased to have spent my time in these strong clinical environments as it helped to shape my career direction.”
Having graduated in 2021, Quanita quickly secured a practice nurse role working with Whaiora. Whaiora is a by Māori-for Māori, not-for-profit healthcare and social services provider in Masterton.
“Within a couple of months of working there, we mobilised to set up a vaccine clinic, Tekau mā Iwa (19), and I became a clinical lead, helping to lead the push for our community to be vaccinated. I also led a response team to help those who caught Covid-19, but weren’t comfortable working with our hospitals, and have been involved in setting up an outreach service off the back of Covid-19 to help with our particularly vulnerable patients.”
Along with her full-time role, Quanita sits on the Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa board and is also studying to become a Nurse Practitioner and a Justice of the Peace.