For Panu Te Whaiti, nursing is a career that just keeps on giving. “Sometimes I get asked if it’s stressful but I find the more you pour into your community; the more your soul is filled. It really fills your cup.”
Panu’s role with Totara Health means she works both in Hastings and Flaxmere, seeing a real mix of patients across age groups and ethnicities. “I love everything about nursing: the people, the variation, the continued learning, working with our people to help keep them well.”
Nursing was not her first choice of career. Panu left her Hawke’s Bay home to see the world at 17, despite her mother’s pleas at that time for her to consider becoming a nurse. As a missionary in the Australian outback she worked with Aborigine and Torres Strait Islanders, before heading to America to work with that country’s first peoples on reservations.
Back home after seven years away and having started her family, nursing finally appeared on her radar. “It was a combination of my mum planting the idea, that I have always loved working with and helping people, and a lightbulb moment – a time when I couldn’t get help for my young child who was really ill.
“I wanted to help and I started working as a community Support Worker with the Public Health Nurses and they really encouraged me to consider training to be a nurse. I did, and it was the best thing I ever did.”