Pasifika Whanau Make Nursing A Family Affair

21 Nov 2014

They say a career in health is a calling, but for four local young Pasifika ladies it also runs in the family. Sisters Hehilia Aukuso (Lia), Akenese Aukuso (Ake) and Sulani Aukuso have been inspired to study Waiariki’s Bachelor of Nursing by their cousin Juanita Carter. What is extra special about this quartet is that there is one member studying on every level of the popular qualification.

Originally from Tokelau, but now settled in Tauranga, the ladies sat down with us to talk aspirations and motivations, one being the sad passing of the sisters’ father.

Sulani Aukuso (pictured, right) - Certificate in Smart Study (Health strand) student

For those needing a taster of some of Waiariki’s key qualifications before committing to three years of learning, the Certificate in Smart Study offers exactly that. After talking future opportunities with Juanita, Sulani, the youngest of the four, feels Smart Study is truly priming her for what lies ahead.

“I’m really enjoying it. Smart Study is really helpful because it is going towards nursing and not just any random kind of thing. Our tutors being from the health industry helps as well. They are able to talk about their experiences.

“You definitely need to do your research and prepare yourself mentally and physically as well,” she says. “A lot of the stuff is emotionally hard for a lot of people and they don’t realise that.”

Lia Aukuso (pictured, left) - 1st year, Bachelor of Nursing student

Loving the bachelor’s holistic approach and its psychological and cultural considerations, Lia confesses nursing wasn’t initially a career she was considering.

“At first I wasn’t really into it. I would not think of nursing at all, but just seeing how Juanita and Ake were enjoying it and how much they were getting back from it, it was really cool and I wanted the same thing.”

Finding the course a way of eventually giving back to their culture, Lia also sees the knowledge gained as a way to share awareness of one of the biggest dangers in modern society.

“Our father passed away due to depression, and because we didn’t really know anything about it, we thought it was just ‘being sad’. We didn’t know that he couldn’t be by himself and things like that.

“Back home in Tokelau, it is not really something that is talked about. This qualification is just our way of trying to get the knowledge, get the education and get it to the highest possible level that we can. Then we can go back home and make people aware of what depression actually means.”

Ake Aukuso (pictured, centre/top) - 2nd year, Bachelor of Nursing student

Also hearing the same calling as the family around her, and finding her growing passion confirmed by the pre-nursing preparation offered in the Certificate in Smart Study, Ake has just finished the practical experience embedded into the second year of her bachelor’s degree.

“I loved practicum. It is so different going out into the hospitals, you actually get that face-to-face time with the patients and the opportunity to put everything you’ve learned into practice. It really brings everything together and is amazing fun.”

Originally pursuing a Bachelor of Arts, Ake highlights that while they have all come from different backgrounds such as education and fashion, their draw to nursing is unanimous. “Just helping other people is a big part of our faith.”

Juanita Carter (pictured, centre) - 3rd year, Bachelor of Nursing student

The quartet plans to stay local initially, to benefit from family support while gaining their first career experiences within the health industry. Although with her graduation now imminent, Juanita feels the anticipation of finishing her studies approaching.

“I am getting a sense of accomplishment, but it is a bit daunting. I am excited to finish, and it’s not so much the pressure, but it is all going to be on me. I’ve got no one to fall on anymore. No student nurse educators, no preceptors. I’ll be the registered nurse. It will all come back to me.”

With her eyes already on a career in surgical theatre or paediatrics, she excitedly reveals she already has a job interview lined up with Tauranga District Health Board.

With the girls’ family joking that they won’t need to pay for healthcare ever again with four nurses on the way, Juanita smiles at the notion Waiariki should pay her commission for having those close to her follow in her footsteps.

“I think so, I should get something out of this! But really, I knew the attitude we all have is the same. We are all brought up the same and I am proud of them all and knew that once they started nursing they would come to love it as I did.

“The theory is hard, but the practical makes you realise why you are in nursing – to help others – and I kept encouraging that to them. I tell them, ‘this will be hard, but once you are at the end and you go out into the field, you’ll realise that this is something that you really want to do’. Now they are all looking forward to the future.”

UPDATE: Since this interview, Juanita has received news she has got the position at Tauranga District Health Board which she mentions above. Congratulations Juanita!

For more information

Page last updated: 02 May 2017