Victoria Lealaiauloto Nofoaiga is about to finish her nursing degree at EIT with her final exam just around the corner. Recently she completed a nine-week placement in the maternity ward of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Hospital. “It has been a full-on and challenging semester,” she says.
Victoria grew up in both New Zealand and Samoa, which has been beneficial and her point of difference during recent placements. Moving back and forth she says has allowed her to “master the skill of being adaptable to any given situation, especially having to speak two languages.” While Victoria’s parents still live in Samoa, Hawke’s Bay has been home for Victoria and her two brothers for the last four years.
Juggling full-time study, part-time work as a support worker at a Disabilities Service in Taradale, and family obligations is tough. Nevertheless, Victoria has persevered and is grateful for the support she has been given along the way from her family, friends, loved ones, the School of Nursing academic staff at EIT, and Mary Robertson, the Pacific Student Support Coordinator. However, it was the end goal, the Bachelor of Nursing, which showed her the way.
When Victoria felt a little isolated in the beginning, she initiated a group for Pasifika nursing students at EIT. “The group makes a difference for us as we share similar cultural backgrounds and face similar challenges.” This year, Victoria was invited to attend the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Pasifika Students’ Fono at the University of Otago, where she shared and learnt ideas about how to strengthen the Pasifika student voice in tertiary education.
Victoria also received the Ministry of Health Pacific Health Scholarship twice, as well as the Tūruki Scholarship this year from the Hawke’s Bay DHB. “It is a great opportunity to build the capability of Pasifika people in New Zealand to become health professionals,” she says.
Although the Pasifika population in New Zealand is growing, they are massively underrepresented in New Zealand’s health system. Therefore, Victoria says, being a Pasifika nurse means adding diversity to the healthcare system and being reflective of the community it serves. More so, it’s about being a familiar face for those who usually avoid accessing care. Victoria is fluent in English and Samoan languages, another asset to add to her kete of skills and knowledge.
In her nursing, one of Victoria’s main priorities is to take time to get to know the patients, their culture and perspective on how they want to be treated and cared for. The Samoan values of alofa (love), fa’aaloalo (respect) and tautua (service) underpin everything she does. “We say that the pathway to leadership is through service, essentially meaning giving back to our communities,” explains Victoria. “Providing care is part of who I am.”