“Watching first-time parents gain that confidence, because you’re there from when the baby is literally newborn ‘til they’re about four.
"So you just see that transition from being the nervous mum that’s paranoid about everything to becoming this confident mum that’s just enjoying her baby and enjoying being a mum.”
She said working alongside families and supporting their in their values and beliefs while raising their children has been a "real eye opener".
“As a Pacific Island woman, I grew up in my family and the way we do things...and then you work out in the community and see a lot of similar things...then you see a lot of different ways that people bring up their children and the way that their beliefs are and you see there’s a lot of change within the island families as well.”
Based in Ōtara, where more than 90 per cent of the clients have Pacific heritage, the Tongan mother of five said she often sees relief on a mother’s face when they first meet, and mothers are able to be more open with her.
“There is an instant connection where they’re thinking ‘You get where I’m coming from. Yeah, you’re just like me’, and I encourage that and I let them know, ‘Yea, I’m a mum just like you, I’m a wife just like you, and I understand a lot of the things that maybe other won’t get in terms of our culture and what we believe in.”
To’a is a registered nurse, then completed a one-year postgraduate certificate specialising in Wellchild Tamariki Ora services to become a registered Plunket nurse, and said she always wanted to work in the community.
"My passion is in helping out our people and supporting them in their environment.”
Pacific families make up 11 per cent of babies that receive Wellchild services through Whānau Āwhina Plunket. Just over a quarter of their staff identify as Pacific, as well as Pasifika nurses who are able to provide Pacific language support through PlunketLine.
Photo: Supplied Caption Rose with her husband Paul, and their five children.