The Plunket nurse calling on Whangarei mother Devi Hill and her new baby at home in Otangarei yesterday created New Zealand nursing history.

Keith Curry, a 41-year-old comprehensive nursing graduate, started his rounds as Plunket's first male nurse in the organisation's 98-year history.

He is now responsible for delivering Plunket's Well Child Healthcare services to new mothers and their babies in the city's Otangarei area.

At the Hill household in William Jones Drive, Mrs Hill 38, presented perfectly-behaved baby Paimata, four months, as Mr Curry's first Plunket assignment.

Mrs Hill is not worried that her Plunket nurse is a man.

"These days women can do anything so I suppose men can too," she says.

"I don't feel uncomfortable.

"It's the same as going to a male doctor."

Mr Curry, assisted on his first day rounds by regular Plunket nurse Anita Anderson, checks and measures Paimata's weight, height and head. Hearing, vision and growth checks are important and there is talk and advice about solid foods.

Nutrition and illness awareness are also part of the Well Child agenda.

"It's good because I had a 'mid-man' [instead of midwife] when I was pregnant with Paimata," Mrs Hill says.

"It's fantastic he's with us," says Anita Anderson.

"It's been a long time coming."

But Mrs Hill's husband, Robert, 30, a home executive, isn't so sure.

Mrs Hill is aware of his doubts.

"Men will be men and he's got his own opinion,' she says.

Mr Curry finishes his first assignment and admits to being "a bit nervous. But there were no problems".

Anita Anderson will work with him for a while.

Earlier, after a powhiri and morning tea welcome at Plunket's nearby Family Centre in King St, Mr Curry said he had no qualms about joining the society as a male nurse.

"They were willing to give me the opportunity," he said.

"I can never be a mum, but I have skills I can offer families and I think I can have a positive effect."

The Whangarei father said he saw an opportunity to develop a career as a Well Child nurse after working with Ngati Hine Health Trust's Tamariki Ora programme (similar to Plunket), the Diabetes Centre and Northland Health.

Mr Curry's first job after graduating in comprehensive nursing was in forensic psychiatry in Hamilton for three years.

He has now had 10 years' nursing experience and also speaks Maori fluently.

Plunket's general manager of clinical services, Angela Baldwin, said Mr Curry had a wealth of community and clinical experience, and a strong commitment to providing support for parents.

He is now one of a network of 625 Plunket nurses, who see 92 per cent of new born babies each year, delivering Well Child Health services throughout the country.