Northland District Health Board staff and many others are in mourning after long-standing nurse clinician and opioid substitution treatment co-ordinator Jewel Reti passed away earlier this month.
Jewel, who died on April 7 after a long cancer illness, was a fierce campaigner to reduce the harm alcohol and drugs caused in the community.
After many years of working in Opioid Substitution Treatment Service Jewel was seconded in 2019 to spearhead the development and introduction of Te Ara Oranga, a Northland DHB Joint venture with NZ Police to reduce methamphetamine demand in Northland.
Te Ara Oranga was awarded the Cedric Kelly Supreme Award at the 2018 Northland Health and Social Innovation Bi-annual Awards in November 2018.
Jewel was central to the development and success of Te Ara Oranga and championed the project to Ministers of Government and clinical colleagues across Aotearoa in her direct, no-nonsense and determined way.
Her unwavering commitment to the kaupapa: the reduction of harm caused by alcohol and drugs in our community has been recognised by the DHB.
Te Ara Oranga gained widespread recognition and praise because of the tireless work Reti did with this project, despite at the same time struggling with her illness and chemotherapy treatments over a long period of time.
"Her biggest inspiration for me was shown when she turned up to present with the team at the Problem Oriented Police awards in Wellington last month. She was very, very ill but hugely determined to do her part in presentation," Police Superintendent Russell Le Prou said.
"We know the effort it took her and the energy her illness took out of her just to do that presentation and we all loved her all the more for that. Jewel believed in Te Ara Oranga and was very proud to be a big part of what we developed and her part in it."
Her commitment, determination and strength shone through as a nurse and she will be sadly missed by many.
"I worked with Jewel closely over 15 years ago. She was a fantastic nurse and leader and such a lovely lady - so courageous," NDHB chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain said.
''Most of all though she, was great person: real, honest, loyal and direct. She has made the world a better place and we will all miss her very much. Jewel's passion, professionalism, expertise and commitment to improving people's lives that were struggling in Northland has had a huge impact on us all.''