This year’s recipient of the Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) Access Community Health Scholarship is Roberta Kaio, from Ahipara in the Far North.
Roberta is of Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa and Ngapuhi Nui Tonu descent and works as a Primary Mental Health Coordinator for a mobile nursing team with Te Hiku Hauora. She will use the scholarship funds towards her Masters of Nursing at the University of Auckland.
Roberta is passionate about working in mental health, especially in rural areas, and promotes working in a holistic framework and within a cultural approach.
“I’m so grateful to receive this scholarship,” says Roberta, who has two post-graduate diplomas in health management and nursing. “I started studying later in life, while on a Single Parent Benefit after a traumatic experience. I remember the days as a single mother with two children, knowing I had to do something better for myself and for my children. I became passionate about supporting people with mental health issues and those that experience abuse.”
Through study and employment opportunities, Roberta progressed her nursing career working with Auckland DHBs, including Community Mental Health teams, the Mason clinic and non-governmental agencies.
“After nearly 22 years living in Auckland, my husband, children and I shifted to the Far North to reconnect with our whanau and community, we now have a better life balance with time for fishing, being outdoors gathering kai and time on the beach together.”
“I spend a lot of time travelling to clients across the rural Far North; however, I get a great deal of satisfaction seeing the work that I do make a difference to the community, and I enjoy being part of people’s journey in a positive way.”
RWNZ and Access are pleased to play a part in helping support Roberta’s own journey towards delivering crucial health services to those in rural communities.
“Community-based rural health services are essential for people living in remote areas,” says Fiona Gower, RWNZ National President. “It is heartening that health professionals like Roberta are passionate about working in regions such as the Far North, and undertaking further study to improve professional knowledge and experience for provision of quality rural health services.”
Access Chief Executive Officer, Simon Lipscombe says, ”We are delighted to award this scholarship to Roberta, who has demonstrated, through her continual studies, an ongoing commitment to providing essential mental health services to those in her rural community. She represents the important connections between primary and secondary healthcare and what that means to the communities that rely on health providers. We are excited to see how Roberta’s career progresses over the years and wish her well.”