LOUISA-MAY Robinson went from client to staff member after existing Turanga Health staff encouraged her to apply for a recently advertised kaiāwhina role.
Louisa-May, Ngati Porou, was receiving support from the Turanga Health emergency housing team when kaiāwhina Naleya Ahu identified her quiet abilities. “She had a lot of potential for a young person, took on a lot of ownership and responsibility for her whānau and the way forward.” Naleya was particularly drawn to Louisa-May’s aptitude for problem solving and communicating. “She’s approachable, honest with people, and always upbeat with a smile.”
Louisa-May was taken aback by the suggestion. Too much self-doubt she reckons. “But I did it anyway, and I love it so much now.”
Previously, Louisa-May, 25, has been raising her nearly-three-year-old daughter alongside taking on some work in kōhanga reo. Now she has thrown herself into kaiāwhina on-the-job training and qualifications by shadowing nurses and kaiāwhina, and working alongside hapū wahine.
This month she’s studying to become a vaccinator so she can administer influenza, Covid and booster vaccinations, as well as some childhood and hapū māmā immunisations. There’s theory and practical modules to advance through. On the day she was interviewed Louisa-May had vaccinated a fellow staff member with this year’s influenza vaccination. “I love that Turanga Health upskills all its kaimahi. You never get bored here.”
Louisa-May began with Turanga Health just days before Cyclone Gabrielle hit the district. She joined forces with other Turanga Health kaimahi cooking meals for whānau flooded out of their homes and emergency response staff working on the frontline. “I enjoyed it, it was cool to know we were doing something that was helping.”
Louisa-May feels like she’s “home” now she’s working at Turanga Health. The organisation prioritises kaimahi physical and mental health, ensuring staff can manage family life around their work commitments, and access fitness and team building opportunities.
It’s a good fit for Louisa-May, who values personal health to best support the growth and development of her own moko. And it’s another attribute Naleya noticed when they first met. “You have to start with selfcare in order to be able to help others, and Lou is all about that.”
Louisa-May is grateful for the opportunities on offer and hungry to learn more. “I’m so glad I came out of my comfort zone and applied for this job.”
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