Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Award honours healthy difference

Sue Matthews has dedicated her life to making sure everyone has equal access to healthcare, but still has plenty she wants to achieve.

The rural Te Puke woman has been made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to health.

Mrs Matthews, 60, is clinical nurse leader at Kaitiaki Nursing Services, where she leads a team of nurses who make sure those who do not usually use health services have an opportunity to receive healthcare.

"I've always worked in the community. For me, working in the community is about making that difference. Working with people to support them in what's important to them," she said. "I guess my whole life is about equity and social justice. Rural people, they just don't have the same opportunities."

Mrs Matthews is also Maketu ward councillor on the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, a role she has held for six years.

Running for council might seem an odd choice for a trained nurse but Mrs Matthews said it was still about health.

"Health is about healthy, vibrant, connected communities," she said. "I've loved it. I've learnt heaps. I've got a whole different world view."

Mrs Matthews said she would not be running for council again this year but would instead stand for the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

"In the past six years, it appears that the Ministry of Health has changed its focus away from building hospitals to making a difference to improve health by early intervention. As this is where my passion and skills lie, I think it would be very exciting to be part of this."

She is also a member of the Health Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal, Child Youth Mortality Review Committee, Bay of Plenty Community Response Forum, Te Puke Economic Development Board and Tauranga China Friendship Charitable Trust.

She was a nursing and health lecturer and programme leader for Waiariki Institute of Technology and remains a student nurse educator.

Mrs Matthews was national councillor for Plunket and is a board member of Bay of Plenty Plunket. She has also worked in aged care.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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