The last cohort of Australian nurses who came over to Whakatāne Hospital to help in the wake of the Whaakari/White Island tragedy has headed back home.

Eleven nurses, 10 from Australia and one from Southland, offered their services to help their Whakatāne nursing colleagues after the eruption.

The last group of four Australian nurses worked their final shifts at the hospital just prior to the weekend.

There has been praise on both sides, from the departing nurses for the way Whakatāne staff handled the initial incident and from Whakatāne Hospital staff for the hard work of the Australian nurses.


Natalie Hincksman was an Advanced Care Nurse who managed and coordinated the MedSTAR Aeromedical Retrieval Service in South Australia.

"I sent a team to New Zealand to retrieve one of the patients from the eruption back to Melbourne," she said.

"The thing that I got back from my team when they did that retrieval was the care that that patient had received was phenomenal.

Hincksman, who had a 20-year background in intensive care nursing, praised local staff for how well the situation was managed.

Emergency nurse practitioner Deanne Brooks said she worked at a country hospital, Geraldton Hospital, which served a similar population to Whakatāne back home in Western Australia.

"We've all got the same background and came here with the common goal to support these nurses. We can empathise with what they've been through.

"It was important for me to come to back up and support our New Zealand colleagues. Your lads are fighting our bush fires, I can't help there but I can help here."

Launceston General Hospital nurse Lesley Pyecroft's said she came because she knew the area very well and took pride in knowing a fair bit about the Maori culture.


She said she loved how family orientated the community was and how they looked after one another.

Pyecroft said the town's hospitality had been amazing and the community had been very welcoming.

Whakatāne Hospital coordinator David van Dijk said he was extremely grateful for their support and everything they've done.

"They fitted into the teams seamlessly and have been a real pleasure to work alongside."