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Source: Waikato District Health Board

A natural nurse, popular with her peers, easily able to establish a good rapport with patients and whānau is how a Te Kūiti nurse was described at an award ceremony recently.

Enrolled nurse Roberta ‘Bobby-Anna’ Wirepa was awarded the prestigious New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s National Leadership Award at Hamilton’s Te Pukenga Wintec campus in July.

The award came two days after the 49-year-old’s graduation, a culmination of two years study that required a lot of travel and dedication, achieved despite the impact of COVID-19.

Born and raised in Te Kūiti and described as a hearty Maniapoto- King Country person, ‘Bobby-Anna’ built her reputation as a hard and reliable worker on the back of experience in the shearing and hospitality industries including running her own businesses.

A 10-year stint working in Australia led to Bobby-Anna’s first entry into the health sector when she completed a Phlebotomy course in Cairns, leading to full-time employment with Queensland Medical Laboratories as a blood collector.

Among other duties, this role included flying around Queensland to various mine sites and conducting compulsory drug screening of fly-in and fly-out workers.

Returning home to Te Kūiti in 2018, Bobby-Anna found her Australian Pathology certificates weren’t recognised, cutting short her Phlebotomy career. Undeterred, she worked in a casual Health Care Assistant role at Waikato Hospital while undertaking Health Studies and qualifying to undertake nurse training, choosing a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing.

Her skills in pathology allowed Bobby-Anna an opportunity to be seconded to various COVID-19 testing teams around the King Country leading to an offer of post-graduate employment at Te Kūiti Hospital.

Throughout her training at Te Pukenga Wintec, Bobby-Anna was recognised as being a supportive and dedicated student, leading to her receiving the leadership award.

“I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to continue my career at my local hospital and can only thank ‘Whaea Tarn’ (CNM Tania Te Wano) for having faith in me,” said Bobby-Anna.
“It was a real surprise when I was told about the award and initially, I didn’t understand the significance of it all. I now understand I have a real opportunity to offer something to my community.”