Q&A with Margareth Broodkoorn

1 August 2014

Find out what is top of MARGARETH BROODKOORN’s bucket list. And what three wishes Broodkoorn – the lead director of nursing on Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō (the national Māori nursing and midwifery workforce development programme) – would ask nursing’s fairy godmother to grant.


Job Title: Director of Nursing and Midwifery (DoNM), Northland District Health Board & DHB sponsor of Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō the national Māori nursing and midwifery workforce development programme

Where and when did you train?

Graduated in 1989 from one of the last hospital-based training programmes at Greenlane School of Nursing.

Other qualifications/professional roles?

Realising the need for a higher qualification, I completed a Bachelor’s degree at Unitec (1996), then a MHSc Nursing 1st class Hons at the University of Auckland (2006). My thesis title was “He Puawaitanga no nga Ao e rua; The Best of Both Worlds”. It explored the relationship between kaupapa Māori and participatory action research methodologies in supporting Māori community development.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

It sounds a little predictable, but my mother was a nurse. Growing up with a mother who was a nurse and a father who was in the military, I had a couple of career options. However, Dad definitely did not want me to go into the army.

I literally grew up at the old Kingseat Hospital, where my mum worked as an enrolled nurse. I was exposed to a lot of positive role models who were strong Māori mental health nurses who kept me on track. While I chose not to work in the specialty of mental health nursing, the guidance of my ‘aunties’ provided me with a solid foundation on which to build a nursing career.

What was your nursing career up to your current job?

While I have travelled overseas, my nursing career has all developed in Aotearoa. My clinical practice has included haematology, general surgery, and gynecology and obstetrics theatre nursing. I have enjoyed education roles at MIT and UoA specialising in kawa whakaruruhau/cultural safety and Te Tiriti o Waitangi training. I then progressed into management and leadership roles as the assistant DoN: Māori with Auckland DHB, managed a Māori health provider service, and then returned home to Hokianga as a community development manager before starting the director role in 2010.

So what is your current job all about?

I have the best job ever as the director of nursing and midwifery for Te Tai Tokerau, Northland. While employed by the DHB, the DoNM role has a district-wide responsibility for leading safe and effective nursing and midwifery practice, ensuring we provide the best care for our Northland community.

I am a member of the executive team that includes the DHB CEO, our partner PHO CEOs (Manaia and Te Tai Tokerau PHOs), the chief medical officer and GM colleagues. Other potae (hats) that I wear as an executive member include sponsorship for advanced care planning, workforce development and smoking cessation.

As the sole DHB DoNM who identifies as Māori, I sponsor Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō, the national Māori nursing and midwifery workforce development programme. NMoA has gone from strength-to-strength building on the programme that was initially situated within ADHB. The programme has graduated over 160 leadership candidates, developed an ePortfolio for nurses and midwives, piloted the Poutama programme (a workplace competency assessment framework) and published a midwifery mapping project and tertiary education scorecards.

What do you love most about your current nursing leadership role?

Being a nurse in Northland. The DoNM role epitomises all that I love – leading nursing practice, influencing change in health care, and the opportunity to do what I love in the place where I was born. Obviously, I can’t do this alone, and I am surrounded by amazing nurse leaders employed in various settings across the DHB and primary health organisations.

What do you love least?

There are not enough hours in the day or days in the week to do what needs to be done. I think Cliff Curtis articulated it well when he sang John Rowles’ “If I only had time …”.

If there was a fairy godmother of nursing, what three wishes would you ask to be granted for the New Zealand nursing workforce?

  1. More Māori student nurses
  2. More Māori new graduate nurses
  3. And more Māori nurse leaders

What are the characteristics of a good leader? Are they intrinsic or can they be learnt?

A colleague of mine recently shared her adaptation of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey’s work), which I think are so applicable to the characteristics of a good leader. A leader needs to be kind, be clear in one’s intentions and direction, be loyal and true, keep promises, say sorry with sincerity and say thank you. While these characteristics can be learnt, these abilities are intrinsic and come naturally to a great leader.

What do you do to try and keep fit, healthy, happy and balanced?

Can’t say I do this very well at all, although my Staffordshire bull terrier helps by taking me for regular walks on the beach. My 16 and 18-year-old teenagers keep me grounded – watching my son playing rugby every weekend and keeping up with my daughter’s shopping sprees. Lately, I have found the benefits of Thai massage very therapeutic.

What is number one on your ‘bucket list’ of things to do?

Visit Amsterdam (where my father was born) and my Dutch whanaunga in Holland, along the way take a walk along Broodkoorne St in Belgium.

If I wasn’t a nurse I’d be a…

Singer – who am I kidding? In my dreams I can hit those high notes, reality is far from it. It is amazing how good a loud radio can make you sound.

What is your favourite meal?

I am from the Hokianga so it is only natural that I love kaimoana – crayfish, paua and cream, kina, oysters, mussels … which is why I like going home especially when the boys have been out diving! Tino reka (delicious).