Far from the hustle and bustle of working in Australian hospital emergency rooms and operating theatres, nurse Rebecca Hoani has settled into a quiet but important role supporting vulnerable māmā and their pēpi in Gisborne.
“I feel very settled and really enjoy my job,” says Rebecca, who right now is walking her own difficult journey reconnecting with life after the loss of her spouse two years ago.
Rebecca, Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Rakaipaaka, is coordinator of local service E Tipu e Rea – a holistic programme helping look after mothers who are facing challenges while they are pregnant, or when they have a newborn or young child.
Visiting nurses and kaiāwhina will wrap as many services as needed around the family such as the nationwide Tamariki Ora Well Child service, healthy home improvements, smoking cessation, or links to other services such as drug and alcohol.
Alongside this support the staff may be able to help the māmā to access essential items purchased using the small E Tipu e Rea putea or fund.
“Some whānau can be managing very stressful situations on top of bringing up a newborn or young baby,” says Rebecca. “It might be violence in the home, drug and alcohol issues, or even homelessness. This small putea through E Tipu e Rea can be used for things like a cot, a car seat, or a breast pump - items that will help support the whānau to ensure their baby can be kept healthy and safe.”
Rebecca works out of the Turanga Health office on Derby St where all E Tipu e Rea referrals from around the rohe are managed from. Once approved staff from Turanga Health, Ngati Porou Hauora and Te Aitanga a Hauiti Hauora work with the families who are receiving support.
The work is busy, but nothing like the hectic shiftwork of Rebecca’s previous jobs.
Born and raised in Gisborne Rebecca trained to be a nurse in Hawkes Bay and then worked for 15 years inMelbourne across both tertiary hospital emergency departments and operating theatres.
“But something changed when we had our children and I couldn’t see myself in that environment of stress, trauma and shift work. That’s why I moved into recovery room nursing after I had babies.”
She, husband Bernard, their son, and with one on the way, moved back to Gisborne three years ago to be closer to whānau as Bern's health was rapidly deteriorating as a result of a long term auto immune condition.
But in early 2019 the family lost Bern to illness. Bearing the unbearable, Rebecca has thrown herself into supporting her own two babies, now nearly three and six, and staying physically and emotionally well.
“After my husband passed it was time to do something for me. I wasn’t sure if I could go back to work in healthcare again. I knew I didn’t want to go back to frontline nursing so this has been something to help mentally change my focus.”
She says working in the E Tipu e Rea “hub” as its known, has been humbling. “It’s an honour to support the nurses and kaiāwhina working face-to-face with whānau in their homes.”
Now she’s back home Rebecca is loving the reconnections with her whānau and rohe. She is improving her te reo Māori through Rongowhakaata wananga; has joined a waka ama team; and in winter loves nothing more than a cold water surf session. It shocks the body into feeling something and sharpens the mind, she says. “That rush you get afterwards, it can stay with you for hours.”
Rebecca reports to Tamariki Ora WellChild manager Janneen Kinney. Janneen is thrilled to have someone with Rebecca’s compassion working behind the scenes in such an important area of health.
“Rebecca has a quiet strength, a strong connection with te ao Māori and understands the ‘whatever it takes’ kaupapa. She is truly an asset to the team and the wahine she is helping support.”
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