Bachelor of Nursing Pacifics first cohort with Dr Neti Tamarua Herman (PhD). CANDICE LUKE/ 24020865
Twelve Bachelor of Nursing Pacific students have made it to their final year of studies under the programme, run in conjunction with Te Marae Ora (TMO) Ministry of Health, Whitireia Polytechnic and University of the South Pacific
The students fly out to New
Zealand today, for nine months of practical training in Wellington.
The cohort was celebrated and
given words of wisdom and advice by esteemed nurses and Te Marae Ora officials
at their farewell at USP Cook Islands campus on Thursday.
Student Sinano Vaeau, 24, comes
from a long line of health professionals.
“My grandmother was a maternity nurse.
My mother is a maternity nurse. My cousin is a nurse. And my dad was the
manager for public health.”
She was always interested in
biology in school, and has a Diploma in Dentistry.
“I want to develop my skills
further. I won’t stop,” Vaeau said.
“At the interview for the course
they asked me where I see myself in 10 years’ time. I’ll be in that secretary
seat, or the Minister of Health,” she said with a confident smile.
But the 24-year-old mother of
two knows the path to her goals won’t be easy.
“I’ve got big dreams, but with
big dreams comes big responsibilities.”
Students were reminded to
support each other, get the fundamentals right, and to be sure to come home to
bring their knowledge back and serve their people.
Acting Secretary of Health Teariki
Faireka and nursing lecturer Mirella Simpson made a special announcement – a
name change of the programme’s cohorts, in honour of two Cook Islands nursing
The first cohort heading to New
Zealand have been named after Dr Neti Tamarua Herman. The next cohort to start
this year will be the namesake of Upoko Takau Matapo.
Both celebrated nurses were
present to offer advice and wisdom.
Matapo told the students:
“Always remember the uniform you wear is a symbol of honour, a symbol of love,
a symbol of service. You are serving the Lord.”
She encouraged them to look to
God and pray through the challenges they face: “Where there’s a will, there’s a
Dr Neti was taken by surprise by
the naming: “I didn’t expect that. It’s an honour.”
The retired nursing doctor has
dedicated her life to the public health sector in the Cook Islands, Aotearoa,
Australia and Fiji – with a special focus on the well-being of young
She advocates for Cook Islands
nurses to go further in their studies with the end goal of returning home to be
the next generation of highly skilled healthcare professionals.
“I’m very passionate about
educating and getting our nurses up to international levels.”
Instrumental in finding funding for Cook
Islands nurses to further their careers, she has put her support behind nurse
Metua Danies-Atutolu, who is currently pursuing a doctorate in New Zealand with
the intent of returning home upon completion.
She is ready to connect students
who want to keep studying past the end of this course.
“We need to build up our young
people to replace the ones that are retiring.”
The next intake, the Upoko Takau
Matapo cohort, still has spaces for 2024. Potential applicants can contact
Mirella Simpson (51017) or Denise Puangi (75142).