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June 14, 2013

Maori nurse achieves her dream

Student nurse Dianna McLean thought she was too old to be a nurse but, after completing a Hauora Maori course in 2009, her career in health hasn't looked back.

Dianna McLean

Dianna McLean

"The very first time I thought about being a nurse was when I was about 14 years old and I wanted to be a Karitane nurse. There was a Karitane hospital in Christchurch where I lived but I'd heard rumours that you had to live there for three years and you never got paid, so it put me off," Dianna says.

Dianna and her husband moved to Westport in 1986, working together in their own commercial fishing boat, which led them to work in Samoa in 1999. When her husband broke his foot, they returned to Christchurch and Dianna had to work to help make ends meet.

Dianna's sister-in-law encouraged her to train to be a carer. Dianna got work at the Lady King Lifecare Centre which was, ironically, in the old Karitane hospital. She completed an ACE training programme for elderly care.

After a couple of years Dianna and her husband returned to Westport and she got a job as activities coordinator at O'Conor Home. In 2009 an opportunity arose to undertake study through the West Coast DHB Hauora Maori training fund. Dianna's manager supported her as a recipient of this fund and she began the Certificate in Hauora Maori (level four) course in Rotorua. On completion of the course, Dianna received a letter asking what her plans were for the future.

"I had to think seriously about that but I realised I still wanted to do nursing.

"The desire to be a nurse was always there, but I always had doubts like I was not good enough or too old."

Having left school at age 15, Dianna needed to do a pre-health course at Tai Poutini Polytechnic to help gain the necessary qualifications to begin a nursing degree and to build up a study habit. She faltered on the mathematics component and missed out on a pass by only one per cent.

"I cried," she says. "But my tutor said not to give up, so I rang the polytechnic and begged. I said 'I am older so I don't have time to muck around, and the Coast is in need of health workers ', and they accepted me."

Dianna's father is of Kahungunu (Napier/Hastings) and Ngai Tahu lineage and her mother is Tuhoe (Uruwera). Dianna also has affiliations with Ngati Porou (are the east coast of the north island ) and Ngati Ruahine (Whanganui). She was born in Christchurch and her maiden name is Thoms. Dianna started her degree in July 2010. At 53, she was the oldest student in her class.

"I went to school with the mother of one of my classmates," she says. Dianna has been training at Barclay Ward at Grey Base Hospital and she will be sitting state finals this year. "My goal at the moment is just to get on a Nursing Entry to Practice Programme run by DHBs."

In the future, Dianna would like to work in wound care and catheter care or perhaps district nursing.

"I think I wouldn't mind doing Maori district nursing in the Buller," she says. "My options are open."



For further information contact:

Erin Jamieson | Communications Team | m: 021 743 237 | t: 03 769 7400
Corporate - West Coast District Health Board | Grey Base Hospital, PO Box 387, Greymouth 7840

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