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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

1 min ago

Wairakau Morrell-Vercoe (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe) will graduate with a Bachelor of Nursing degree from EIT on Friday. She is also an EIT Hawke’s Bay Valedictorian.

Wairakau Morrell-Vercoe (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe) never felt that she was born to be a nurse, but the EIT Hawke’s Bay Valedictorian for 2022 says that growing up seeing people with health needs made her want to be able to help. This led to her decision to study for a Bachelor of Nursing at EIT.

Wairakau graduated from EIT’s School of Nursing at the end of last year and on Friday will step onto the Napier Municipal Theatre stage not only to graduate but to deliver a speech as one of three EIT Hawke’s Bay Valedictorians.

The 24-year-old says she was surprised when she was approached by EIT.

“I am honoured to be a Valedictorian and I felt like I was recognised for all my hard mahi, I also feel proud to represent my whānau and hopefully other Māori into nursing”.

It will also be a proud moment for the family of Wairakau, who was born and bred in Hawke’s Bay and went to Hukarere Girls’ College and then Hastings Girls High School.

After school, Wairakau spent two years doing different jobs, including working in retail, a packhouse and a kohanga reo. When she went to EIT to study nursing she worked in a rest home.

“At first, I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t those ones that was like, ‘I was born to be a nurse,’ but I was always interested in health and sports. I’ve seen first-hand the impact illness has on people in my local community. I also have a few family members in social work, mental health and education, but not too many in nursing.”

“I just wanted to learn more so that I could help them and just break down all these barriers and disparities. Just so I could help them get better.”

Wairakau says that, in particular, she wants to help and give back to Māori communities.

While completing her degree, Wairakau went on a primary healthcare placement at a GP in Wairoa. The placement was part of the Tairāwhiti Interprofessional Programme (TIPE), run by the University of Otago in conjunction with EIT’s School of Nursing.

“It was a five-week programme where a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) of nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, dieticians and medicine students stayed together and worked together. It was a good experience.”

At present she is doing her Nurse Entry to Practice course through the former Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (now known as e Whatu Ora Te Matau a Māui, Hawke’s Bay) while working at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, a social and health services provider based in Hastings.

“I’m definitely enjoying it. I wanted to be out in the community, and this is where I wanted to work, so I’m happy to be here. I feel lucky as well.”

But for now, Wairakau’s focus is on her graduation and her Valedictorian speech.

Katherine Williams, the Programme Coordinator for EIT’s Bachelor of Nursing, says: “It has been a privilege for our faculty to watch these students grow and develop their skills to become nurses. The contributions that they make as nurses will be impactful for whānau, friends, iwi and community. I would like to congratulate Wairakau on graduating and being Valedictorian as well. I have had the pleasure of teaching Wairakau and look forward to watching her career blossom”. “Ka pai Wairakau”

Associate Professor Denise Blanchard, Head of School, Te Kura Kaupapa Tapuhi, School of Nursing congratulates all graduates and says best wishes for their next adventure!