There's no stopping Maureen Speedy. Every time the phone rings, the door opens or a baby cries, she's up and at it.

But after a career spanning 40 years, and not a few struggles, Waikato Family Centre manager Maureen Speedy will call it a day this week.

Originally from Australia, Speedy arrived in the 1990s as a registered nurse, midwife and specialist in maternal and child welfare to manage what was then a Plunket centre in Hamilton and was almost immediately plunged into controversy when the centre was listed for closure with other Plunket facilities around New Zealand.

"We decided to fight it. We went on street marches and we got a lot of help. I came back and we had two staff to begin with, now we have seven."


During the struggle the centre received critical funding support from high-profile Hamilton professionals including Medlab managing director Brian Linehan and it became the Medlab Family Centre.

A trust was set up to administer the centre and was supported by Stephanie and John Pak closely involved with accounting and management firm KPMG which has administered the centre's payroll requirements since. Then Nurses Union rep Sue Moroney also stepped in to help.

The centre was renamed the Waikato Family Centre and today receives funding through Waikato DHB and from the Ministry of Social Development for its work with teenage parents along with grants and donations.

Housed in a century-old HNZ property on one of Hamilton's steepest streets the Waikato Family Centre provides free professional, practical support for mothers, babies, fathers and teenage parents who face challenging issues such as feeding, sleeping, maternal exhaustion and post-natal distress.

Maureen said one focus of the centre's services had been supporting teenage parents, both mothers and fathers, with a strong anti-family-violence message.

The centre also hosts one of the longest running post-natal groups in the country. With one group every two months it will welcome its 123rd group this week.

Taking over as manager is Jo Coulter who comes from a background as a registered nurse and midwife with experience in emergency nursing at the community and hospital levels, as a charge nurse at Waikato Hospital, and most recently three years as district nurse at Tokoroa.

I love the difference the centre makes to families at such an important time in their lives. I would like to continue the services Maureen has promoted."


An open day will be held at the Waikato Family Centre, 4 Radnor St, Hamilton, to celebrate Maureen's last day, trustees, staff and clients, current and former, are welcome. 11am to 3.30pm Friday, September 27.