Volunteer of the year

November 1, 2020

The 2020 Health Volunteer of the Year is Patricia (Patu) Sigley, nominated by Kororareka Marae Society. She also received the Māori health volunteer award.

The annual awards began in 2013, with the Minister of Health announcing awards in nine different categories.

According to Ministry of Health information, Sigley worked as a nurse in small, isolated rural Māori communities, mainly in the Mid North, Bay of Islands, from 1966 until she retired five years ago. She also spent a large part of her non-work time volunteering, a practice she has continued in her retirement. Her colleagues describe her as a person who is “always on voluntary duty”, and an inspiration.

Sigley’s diverse volunteering activities include:

  • helping establish and run hauora clinics in Russell, for both the people of Russell and the surrounding communities of Waikare, Rawhiti, Ngaiotonga and Okiato, including marae-based eye and podiatry clinics and sessions on health and wellbeing;
  • volunteering for the Kawakawa rural ambulance service for 30 years;
  • assisting people with everyday tasks, such as shopping and cleaning up, as well as holding someone’s hand during sad times;
  • assisting kuia and kaumātua into pensioner housing;
  • helping people transition from prison to community living;
  • making people aware of the COVID-19 testing available and how to access it;
  • helping distribute food parcels to families and whānau during COVID-19 and being available 24/7 to take their calls; and
  • coordinating and supporting communities and medical practitioners with flu injections and COVID-19 testing in Kororareka/Russell.

Sigley said she felt very honoured to receive the awards. She credits nursing for giving her “so many opportunities and challenges in life”, and looks back on her nine years nursing at Ngawha Prison in Northland as a highlight. “I was a diabetes nurse educator so worked closely with prisoners with diabetes. I also enjoyed being an NZNO delegate.”