IF navigating Covid-19 is a journey, Pauline Gilroy has certainly been on the road!
Visiting her grandson in Australia in July 2021, the state went into lockdown. Then when she started work at Tūranga Health upon her return, she was quickly immersed in working the Māori health service's vaccination centres.
“Being thrown in the deep end and getting out to communities and marae has been fantastic, and showed me the scope that Tūranga Health represents.”
Pauline's role is service administrator. She does everything from administration and report writing to answering Turanga Health's busy telephone lines.
During her time at the vaccination clinics, however, that role expanded to replenishing vaccine supplies, disseminating the all-important vaccine clinic posters, and even making cups of tea.
“It was important to make sure whanau weren't just cared for clinically, but also in terms of making them feel safe, happy and welcome,” Pauline says.
“There is a real whānau feel, like being on the marae with heaps of aunties.”
Pauline's own aunties are from Tuhoe and Te Aupouri descent and her papakainga is at Te Kao, about halfway up Ninety Mile Beach, and Ruatahuna, the heart of Ngai Tuhoe.
“We've always been a whānau of strong wahine and that's where I get a lot of my own strength from,” Pauline says. “My grandmother was an incredible woman. She was the first Māori woman ordained in the Anglican church.”
Although Pauline once trained to be a welder, she has instead worked in a range of administration and finance roles until she got caught up in the Tairawhiti Polytechnic redundancies of 2007.
Pauline reckons her new job with Tūranga Health is a bit like her old job of 2001 when she worked with the Public Health Unit, which was rolling out changes to the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccination programme.
“Though vaccines are the focus right now, I'm excited about the variety of work to come in the future. I love that Turanga Health’s mission statement directs them to focus on better health for all whanau and I love being able to help.”
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