Q&A with Lorraine Hetaraka-Stevens

February 2015 Vol 15 (1)

Lorraine Hetaraka-Stevens is the first nursing director for the country's largest PHO, ProCare. Check out who inspired her to go nursing, her wish list for nursing and why she'd like to head to Vietnam some day.

JOB TITLE | Nursing Director ProCare

IWI | Ngati Kahu, Te Arawa me Ngati Ranginui  

HAPU | Te Whanau Moana, Rorohuri, Ngati Pikiao, Tapuika me te Pirirakau


Lorraine Hetaraka Stevens 01

Where and when did you train?
I was comprehensively trained at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua 1994–1996.

Other qualifications/professional roles?

I went on to complete a postgraduate certificate in Māori health followed by a postgraduate diploma in leadership and long-term conditions. I am currently enrolled in the master’s programme at The University of Auckland. I sit on a range of DHB advisory groups and am also on Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō (the national Māori nursing and midwifery workforce development group), the Northern Cancer Network and the Maternal Foetal Medicine advisory group.

When and/or why did you decide to become a nurse?

My daughters were my inspiration and motivation, and I choose nursing as a career because I wanted to make a difference to my whānau and the communities I serve. I have two younger sisters who are currently undergraduate nursing students and I enjoy supporting them on their pathway. Both in my personal and professional life I am dedicated to encouraging rangatahi into nursing and health-related careers and then supporting them to develop into our future leaders.

What was your nursing career up to your current job?

My first position was at Tauranga Hospital’s Te Puna Hauora (kaupapa Māori service) and I was a member of the service’s first new graduate programme cohort. I was placed in maternity services and rotated between postnatal, delivery suite and the special care baby unit. At the time I thought of training as a midwife but ended up accepting a position in the paediatric ward.

I spent a couple of years working in paediatrics then moved to Auckland to further my career; I worked for several years at Starship Children’s Hospital in general medicine. My next move was to HealthWest PHO where I went on to specialise in paediatric respiratory medicine with a primary focus on bronchiectasis. This sparked my interest in population health, primary prevention and health policy.

I accepted a position at Tamaki PHO as nurse leader, a role I thoroughly enjoyed. Wanting to further develop my leadership abilities, I successfully applied for the role of associate director of nursing at Auckland DHB, where I spent four years until my recent appointment as nursing director for ProCare.

So what is your current job all about?

I’m fairly new to the role, having only been appointed three weeks ago, so I’m still finding my feet. My role is to be accountable for standards of nursing care and the strategic development of primary care nursing. I am part of ProCare’s clinical directorate and I’m responsible for several portfolios across the network, some of which include allied health, child and maternal health, professional development and education, new graduate programmes and workforce development. 

What do you love most about your current nursing leadership role?

Working with inspirational people; the ability to influence change; the variety and diversity of the role; the challenges that come with that and the opportunity to contribute to making a difference.

What do you love least?

Workload demands placed on the workforce that are challenging, particularly on frontline staff; inequities that persistently exist across the health care system; fragmentation across the health system and bureaucracy.

If there was a fairy godmother of nursing, what three wishes would you ask to be granted for the New Zealand nursing workforce?

Other than wishing for more wishes, I would wish for the following:

  • Guaranteed employment for all New Zealand-trained new graduates, with a priority on recruitment in primary care.
  • Increase Māori nurse numbers across the healthcare system and develop them into designated leadership positions.
  • Remove ALL barriers to enable primary care nurses to work at the top of their scope.

What do you think are the characteristics of a good leader?  And are they intrinsic or can they be learnt?

We all have the ability to be leaders – health systems will not naturally gravitate towards equity. There is a multitude of books and articles on the subject and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to leadership.  Key characteristics of great leaders that resonate with me have personal attributes such as self-awareness and reflection, integrity, the ability to be adaptable and to drive for improvement. Leaders that I admire also possess the ability to steer change through people, collaborate and empower others, and achieve effective and strategic influence. These attributes are built on a strong foundation of values, dedication, commitment and a higher purpose.
What do you do to try and keep fit, healthy, happy and balanced?
I run two to three times a week and have started taking boxing classes at City Boxing, which I’m really enjoying. My family would say that cleaning is my hobby – I do enjoy keeping my home life organised.
What helps keep you sane, busy or on task outside of work?
My whānau and friends – they keep me grounded and connected.
What is your favourite way to spend a Sunday?
Spending time with my grandson. He is just the centre of my universe. I love him to pieces.
What is number one on your ‘bucket list’ of things to do?
My dad was in the army and spent time in Vietnam – I would love to do an Intrepid tour with him through Vietnam and Malaysia, where he was also stationed.

Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments