Rotorua's Casey Pauling is the recipient of this year's Rotorua Area Primary Health Services Scholarship, helping her to follow in her mother's footsteps.

Seeing her mother Sandra Heald graduate with a Bachelor of Nursing - age 37 - was one of Miss Pauling's proudest and defining moments.

With three teenagers and a baby daughter to raise, Ms Heald completed her nursing qualification as a mature student when Miss Pauling was in high school.

The scholarship was established in 2008, with funds donated by Rotorua Area Primary Health Services Ltd to the Health Rotorua Charitable Trust.


Each year, two scholarships worth $2000 each are offered to residents in their first year of medical or nursing training, with the intent of supporting the training and retention of local medical practitioners.

Miss Pauling, 24, was thrilled to be this year's recipient and was currently cracking into her first year studies at Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, to complete a Bachelor of Nursing.

"It's really cool, but very challenging. I love the science, learning about our bodies and how they work, which is something I wasn't into at school - but now I love it."

Miss Pauling said a lengthy stint overseas - travelling around Europe, South-east Asia and Australia - made her ready to take up the family mantle in nursing.

"When I went to Thailand for the first time I visited a village in the hills, near Chiang Mai. Seeing how they live was a shock and it inspired me," she said.

"Coming back to New Zealand, to my hometown, I realised I want to help people and I want to be able to educate, as well as care for people, so what better way to do that than through nursing?

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"Plus, I hope to one day return to Thailand and do some volunteer nursing work."

She credits her role model mother as the driving force behind her career.

"My mum certainly played a big part in encouraging me - she's very inspiring because she is so good at what she does."

Ms Heald, who currently works in Mental Health and Addictions Services at the Lakes DHB, thinks her daughter's foray into nursing is "fantastic".

Ms Heald was an advocate for Miss Pauling to get some life experience before making the all-important career choice.

"I think a lot of school leavers feel they have to decide straight away, but I felt strongly that it was okay not to.

"I supported her to get that life experience; now she has come back and is really determined and focused, and I don't know if she would have been at 18."

She said it was good to see the scholarship encouraging locals to get into the profession, and keep the talent in Rotorua.

"There are so many gains to be made in health in Rotorua, and I think it is really cool to have someone from here wanting to stay in the city and make a real difference to the community."