Retired nurse misses printed Kaitiaki

March 25, 2022

It is with regret that I have made the decision to stop my NZNO membership.

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As an experienced, multi-skilled, multi-specialist enrolled nurse (originally graduated as a registered community nurse (Auckland Hospital Board School of Nursing — Registration No 1725), I have been retired from nursing since 2011. I have continued with NZNO membership to receive Kaitiaki, as I love being informed and kept up to date about nursing, and continuing to learn about all aspects related to nursing. Kaitiaki also  informed me about current lectures and courses, as well as reunions.


It has been several years since I attended a reunion, but it was such a lovely experience to meet up with other nurses and recall how Auckland Hospital used to be (so many original buildings and nurses’ homes no longer around). When I graduated, it was team nursing, with a shared approach and good support as you continually learned new skills. This gave me a good medical grounding to build on and add all the  numerous skills I accrued over 30 years of nursing.

Initially, Auckland Hospital had several prefab buildings, near the children’s Princess Mary hospital.

For any ward in any part of the hospital that we worked in, we wore a long-sleeved uniform and changed into a short-sleeved uniform (and always a cap — cloth initially then cardboard — and you couldn’t have any hair below the collar) for duty; only to to have to change to long sleeve to go to lunch, which was only half an hour, then change at ward into short sleeve for after lunch duty and again change into long sleeve at end of shift. This was for morning, afternoon and night shifts. Going to and from night shifts and on cold winter days we had a wool cape.

The brick building housed cancer patients. All had very noticeable fungating tumours of various kinds, eg face, breast. The patients were long-term. On nice sunny days it was normal to take patients (some in their beds) outside onto the verandah, which had great views over the Domain, and you could watch cricket games etc.

Yes, those were very different times, and the wards were spick and span and tidy. Part of a nurse’s duty was sterilising stainless steel instruments, and bedpans and sputum mugs. There were a lot of glass eyes soaking in receptacles on lockers overnight!

Then as changes developed over the years, and old buildings were demolished  for new ones, nursing changed and developed too and a patient’s stay in hospital shortened. Now it is so different– New Zealand’s population is larger, beds are at a premium and nurses continue to adapt to the changes.

From my day one of nursing, careful handwashing was instilled in all of us, and I have maintained this practice all my life, meaning no issue during COVID-19. Initially masks and  gowns were cloth before disposable ones. Disposable gloves were not as prevalent initially.

Being born in 1949, we all got chicken pox, measles, whooping cough, mumps, polio (my brother has one emaciated leg from this) flus etc — there being no vaccines until the ’50s.

Before starting nursing training at Auckland Hospital School, you had to have smallpox, typhoid etc vaccines, and all throughout my nursing, regular tests over the years proved I had immunity to the necessary requested viruses and infectious diseases that emerged, including the more recent MRSA.

I am pro-vaccine updates and have had the current two COVID-19 vaccines and the booster.

Thank you for all the previous years of paper issues of Kaitiaki.

Unfortunately I prefer the paper magazine to digital. It’s more meaningful for me. Digital methods just flash in and out for me, and I don’t seem to retain the content, no matter how many times I view it!  It’s not the learning I’ve grown up with and I guess it never gets into my long-term memory! It will be different for all those who have just grown up with digital.

Shirley Blackie, EN