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EIT welcomes new Head of Nursing

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

EIT’s new Head of School Nursing, Associate Professor Thomas Harding equates his role to that of a kaitiaki - a caretaker co-creating a nurturing environment where inclusive and collaborative values allow staff and students to flourish.

Originally from Christchurch, Thomas has had extensive experience in the nursing and tertiary sectors working in New Zealand, the Australian outback, Norway - where he continues in a part-time role as Professor at Buskerud University College - Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

A nurse since 1982, he has been based in Sydney for the last five years. Until recently, as Associate Professor and State Head of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine at Australian Catholic University in New South Wales, he was responsible for 2000 students across two campuses as part of the national school.

Although he has only been on campus for a short time, he says he has been impressed by the "incredibly talented" staff at EIT’s School of Nursing.

"With its many postgraduate students, staff with PhDs and research outputs, EIT would be the envy of many schools of nursing, including those at a number of universities."

Such an enriching learning environment provides a great springboard for students wanting to develop careers in a field that can provide them with extraordinary opportunities.

Originally planning to teach geography to high school students, Thomas experienced "a moment of epiphany", realising he wanted a job that allowed him to travel and where felt he could make a difference in people’s lives.

Having already gained a Master of Science, he went on to complete a Bachelor of Nursing and a PhD (Auckland).

Positions he has filled include Bachelor of Nursing programme director at Unitec and programme manager of Nursing and Health at NorthTec. Work has also taken him to Cambodia and frequently to the Philippines.

"I’ve had a life that’s rich and exciting and I’m a far better person for it," he says of his vocational rethink. "How could I not be working with people on the margins and vulnerable? I’ve had the opportunity to work in developing nations and to understand how lucky we can be coming from a country like New Zealand where we have so many opportunities available to us."

Thomas has returned to New Zealand sooner than he imagined in his career. Identifying as a white Pacific Islander, he says he missed the feeling of being part of the Pacific living in downtown Sydney.

"I want to be wanted to be part of nature again."

He is looking forward to familiarising himself the vineyards that have burgeoned here since he visited in his youth and also to exploring the region’s network of cycle trails. "I cycle recreationally," he says, "and I like drinking wine."

He and his partner are scouting for a property that offers sustainability, opportunities for growing organically and going off-grid.

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