''Mum you don't want to be a receptionist forever'' and ''give me three years, and I will give you a life'' are words that inspired Narelle Newdick to pursue a career in nursing.
Her son Zavia came up with the first pearls of wisdom after an educational visit to her local marae at Maketu - where lecturer Orana Harris said Narelle should consider changing direction and asked her what she had planned for the future.
The 40-year-old said that kick-started her studies towards a bachelor degree in nursing at Toi Ohomai's Rotorua campus in 2014, with the full support of Zavia.
"I told him we are going to be poor; there will be no more going out to the movies, buying things all the time or going out for dinner and he said that is fine. I am now encouraging him towards tertiary and university study so with him encouraging me, I needed to walk the talk.''
She believes every Maori family should have a nurse and says it was enjoyable working towards her goal but ''it wasn't easy''.
Last month she graduated and was named valedictorian. She secured a place on the Nursing Entrance to Practice programme, which offered 12-month contracts with different DHBs.
''I applied at Lakes DHB where just over 100 people applied for 11 placements. I got the only one in ED, so I was pretty proud.''
Fellow nursing graduate Tineka Barlett, who studied at Toi Ohomai's Tauranga campus, said she wanted to challenge herself after being involved in child care and remedial massage therapy.
The single mum said it was a toss-up between nursing and midwifery, but nursing had more options.
''I knew I could never get bored with nursing as there are so many aspects to it. There are different career paths within nursing, and that is what attracted me.''
She had not studied since high school and said ''I was never good at writing or things''.
But she drew on the strength of her whanau study group and learning advisers.
''I loved it, I love learning, and I love the science of it. I think as you get older and have that life experience you will enjoy studying what you want to study.''
Tineka was also on an NEP programme on the surgical ward at Tauranga Hospital.
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology's nursing head of department, Brighid McPherson, said the institute offered a bi-culturally flavoured Bachelor of Nursing ''which supports graduates to have the widest possible job opportunities both locally, nationally and internationally''.
In the past three years, it had about 40 per cent of year one students identifying as Maori, with 30 per cent in years two and three.
It worked with about 170 health providers to place students in clinical practice environments, and all of the providers were supportive of growing the Maori nursing workforce to meet the region's demographic, she said.
''The current demand is being driven by central Government, who wish to match the Maori nursing numbers to the DHB Maori patient demographic.''
In 2016, 36 BN Maori students sat and passed the NCNZ state finals and 100 per cent who were seeking employment had job offers as registered nurses.