Home / Stories / Tongan care worker seizes opportunities to upskill and support her community
Uinita (Nita) Tapaatoutai is a hard worker and an inspiration to others. She balances two work roles, her community healthcare work commitments and mentoring her peers. She is a role model for her five children, and still has a determination to grow and succeed, now taking on a Management degree. With a Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing under her belt, the Oamaru Hospital worker will soon complete a Level 4 Apprenticeship in Community Facilitation with support from Industry Training Organisation, Careerforce.
The Tongan Health Care Assistant is passionate about learning and is keen to take advantage of the opportunities
“It was sometimes a struggle to fit in all the study, last year,” says Nita. “During COVID, I often worked overtime, as staff were away, during lockdown. It was a big challenge at times. But I do enjoy the learning, so I kept pushing myself.
When Nita’s manager suggested a few of the staff were having problems with their apprenticeship modules, and would she like to help them, it was natural to offer to help.
“I had one or two ladies, who were doing the community facilitation apprenticeship, who faced the same challenges that I had last year. One apprentice had only completed seven modules, and was ready to give up. I told her my story, and I managed to encourage her to keep going.”
As she approaches the finish line with her own apprenticeship, Nita has already begun another programme of study. One of ten successful candidates to be selected from more than twenty applicants, Nita has now enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Management through Capable NZ at Otago Polytechnic and started in early August 2021.
Waitaki District Council, Safer Waitaki, MSD, Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group Inc (OPICG Inc) and local Iwi partnered with Otago Polytechnic to offer ten Scholarships for Māori and Pasifika people employed within various industries the opportunity to complete a Bachelor of Applied Management. The aim is to promote Māori and Pasifika leadership across a number of industries in Oamaru.
“Now the learning is all about management skills, leadership, and how to deal with people”, says Nita.
Nita is also enrolled in the New Zealand Diploma in Enrolled Nursing with Ara, and will commence this once her management studies are complete.
Earlier in the year Nita was invited to be involved in six month pilot role with OPICG Inc as Pacific community health link worker funded by WellSouth PHO. WellSouth is the Primary Health Network that supports general practice across the southern region including supporting Pasifika providers.
According to Nita, over 2000 Pacific Islanders call Oamaru their home. Part of her role is to help increase the number of Pacifica people enrolled in primary health care and inform them of the health issues and services and help navigate the healthcare system.
In June 2021 the role was reviewed and with additional funding, the contract has been extended another twelve months.
Nita says, “I would like my people to take the opportunity to upskill themselves. For the many people who work in healthcare, and rest homes, I would really encourage them to take the opportunity to learn and upskill, and especially with an apprenticeship supported by Careerforce.”
Careerforce apprenticeships are workplace-based training programmes supported by a team of Apprenticeship Advisors across the country who provide pastoral care for learners. For Nita the Careerforce training has been life changing. The learning has been challenging at times, but she is continuing to make a huge difference, boosting her own career as well as those of other Pacifica healthcare workers.
“As my Dad used to say, the struggles I have today, will be the joy and happiness of tomorrow.”
Careerforce Dunedin-based Apprenticeship Advisor, Sarah Orr says, “Nita is just going from strength to strength, and I am blown away by her professional progress over the time that I have worked with her.”
More information about the Level 4 Apprenticeship in Community Facilitation