Former Northland District Health Board nursing and midwifery director Margareth Broodkoorn will be speaking up about nationwide health inequities in her new role as the Ministry of Health's chief nursing officer.
Broodkoorn will be the first Māori to hold the position.
She has worked in a variety of roles in Auckland and Northland during a 30-year nursing career. She said she leaves Northland with a heavy heart.
"It's been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster over the last couple of months since I made the decision. I vowed when I finally returned to Te Tai Tokerau, that I would be home to stay."
While she felt ready for the new job, colleagues had encouraged her to consider applying for it, she said.
"If I'm not prepared to step up when one needs to, then I can't expect others to.
''It's important with nursing leadership in this country that we focus on homegrown development, and that's what I have advocated for as the sponsor of the Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō [the national Māori nursing and midwifery workforce development programme].''
Her career shift comes after nine years with the DHB.
"Usually, once I've been in a role in for around three years, I get bored and have itchy feet. There hasn't been time for that in this role. Every year brings a different challenge and new priorities that you need to deal with."
DHC chief Dr Nick Chamberlain said the organisation had been lucky to have Broodkoorn for nine years.
During her leadership, Broodkoorn championed the development of Te Taumata, the senior nursing and midwifery leadership group in Northland, and other nursing-midwifery executive teams.
"It has been a great honour to have worked alongside these amazing leaders who have given me the strength and confidence in what we do as nurses and midwives. Having the right people around you is important to deliver on outcomes.
''We had a vision that by 2020, Northland would have 15 nurse practitioners. We've got 18 already, and three or four in the wings ready to submit their portfolios.''
She is proud of the implementation of the Care Capacity Demand Management Programme (CCDM) in Northland and He Waka Kakaraui, a model for engaging Māori in Advance Care Planning (ACP).
"This is a tool not just for Māori but for everyone to utilise as a tohu, or a symbol and framework to start a conversation around ACP and end of life care. I'm really proud of that."
While there is no manual for her MOH job, Broodkoorn said it would involve connecting care around New Zealand, looking at how nursing can contribute to improving health outcomes for Māori and addressing inequities within the health system.
"I'll be learning a lot around the mechanics of the Ministry of Health and working in Wellington. That will be a steep learning curve. But I'm up for it."