Massey staff recognised at Primary Healthcare Awards


College of Nurses Aotearoa NZ Nurse Practitioner of the Year Maria Kekus, and finalist Associate Professor Karen Hoare at the New Zealand Primary Healthcare Awards He Tohu Mauri Ora.

Maria Kekus and Associate Professor Karen Hoare have been named category winner and finalist respectively at the recent Primary Healthcare Awards.

The New Zealand Primary Healthcare Awards He Tohu Mauri Ora celebrated the stars of primary healthcare at a black-tie awards ceremony earlier this month in Auckland. The evening showcased general practitioners, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, suppliers, practice managers, researchers and others whose innovations and collaborations are transforming primary healthcare.

Ms Kekus was named winner of the College of Nurses Aotearoa NZ Nurse Practitioner of the Year, while Dr Hoare from the School of Nursing was a finalist in this prestigious event.

Regularly referred to as a “nursepreneur”, Ms Kekus is a trailblazer when it comes to serving rangatahi (young people). She contributes to academic mentorship and examining on the nurse practitioner final year programme.

Ms Kekus is the clinical director and co-founder of Health Connections, a nurse-led primary care service that delivers free healthcare and social services to young people. The service takes a proactive, wellness-based approach, with staff able to address a range of issues from sexual and mental health to vaccinations in one appointment. It aims to empower young people so that they can navigate the health system on their own.

Dr Hoare is the director of postgraduate programmes within the School of Nursing and has led the Nurse Practitioner final year programme at Massey University for the past four years. 

She is also a nurse practitioner and partner at Greenstone Family Clinic in Manurewa, South Auckland, where she specialises in caring for mothers, babies and youth. Here, she has implemented systems into the practice that ensure even the most vulnerable young people do not fall through the cracks, and that healthcare is financially, geographically and culturally accessible for young people and their whānau. Additionally her research centres around improving the health and well-being of children and young people nationally and internationally.

Head of the School of Nursing Professor Nicolette Sheridan, congratulated both women on their success. “Massey University is fortunate to have nurse practitioners – national leaders who teach and mentor and who are committed to making a difference to the health and wellbeing of young people and their whānau.”

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