Security guard switches to nursing

December 1, 2021

For Daniel Manihera, rejecting the lessons of a lifetime means he can finally start to learn again.

Daniel Manihera
Daniel Manihera

Manihera, in his second year of a Bachelor of Nursing, has shared the story of his journey after beginning the course at NorthTec aged 42.

“I was told all my life that I would amount to nothing. And so, I’m doing it to prove all those teachers from back in the day wrong.”

He started his degree after 11 years working in the mental health sector for Northland District Health Board (NDHB). His work there eventually saw him become team leader of the mental health auxiliary workers.

“I started off as hospital security and then got poached by mental health services. I had just taken this role on and my passion for caring for people really grew.”

Manihera said he turned to nursing because of the lack of control he had in helping Māori and other less-represented communities in his old job.

He “wanted and needed” to remove disparities and inequalities between Māori and non-Māori in the health system.

His children and wider whānau were another factor behind the decision to become a mature student – and educational role-model.

“I tell my kids, ‘get a good education’. Otherwise, you’re going to be 44, like Dad and having to return to school.”

“I was told all my life that I would amount to nothing. And so, I’m doing it to prove all those teachers from back in the day wrong.”

Despite his commitment, the shift to nursing was a big change for Manihera. He was concerned that at 42 he was too old to start academic learning again.

However, he said he was encouraged by his colleagues and management at NDHB, and NorthTec tutor Joanna Davidson when she visited the mental health unit to check in on nursing students on placement.

“It was 10 years before I jumped into it, although my NDHB whānau started to push me about two years into the job. No regrets so far.”

Manihera said his plans for what type of nursing he might end up doing were still wide open.

“I want to choose a place where I feel competent, I feel confident, and where I can have an influence in health pertaining to Māori.”