Adele Robertson and Leonie Howie
Leonie Howie and Adele Robertson have worked as rural nurses and midwives on Great Barrier Island (Aotea) for more than 30 years. Along the way they have gained their master's degrees and co-founded a company (in partnership with Dr Ivan Howie) to develop and deliver the island's primary and community health services. Both have received nursing awards and contributed to rural nursing publications. More recently they have published a memoir, "Island Nurses", about their experiences on the island.
A World of its Own - Great Barrier Island
Leonie Howie and Adele Robertson live and work as rural nurses and midwives on Great Barrier Island (Aotea), so called because it faces the full brunt of the wild Pacific weather and acts as a barrier for the mainland about 100 kilometres away. With a population of about 1000, no reticulated electricity, no ATM, no street lights and one pub, this is a wild yet beautifully rugged place. It has a long history of farming, whaling and fishing and the people who live there are a hardy lot, proud of their isolation. It is also a popular holiday destination for mainlanders.
In 2017 Leonie and Adele published a book showcasing the natural beauty of the island along with the special characteristics of the island people. Members of the community gave permission for their experiences to be told and through these stories – of struggle, of sorrow, of celebration – one obtains a picture of the challenges and complexity of work in such a remote rural environment.
Their book can be read on several different levels however they will share how some of these complex stories relate to and validate the professional research about rural people's perceptions of health, rural communities, rural teams and the importance of having the ability to negotiate both professional and personal boundaries. What it means to know and be known in a community and how, although this may present challenges, it can also be uplifting and rewarding.