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Anzac nurses help out after White Island tragedy

NURSES who dropped everything and travelled to Whakatane following the Whakaari/White Island eruption have been thanked for their selflessness and kindness.

Six Australian and one Kiwi nurse quickly went to Whakatane Hospital to help hospital staff after the fatal eruption on December 9.

The nurses from Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and Southland arrived shortly after Christmas.

They were typically staying for around two weeks and were working rostered shifts.

Royal Brisbane Hospital clinical nurse consultant Madelaine “Maddie” Hooper was one of those who volunteered without hesitation when staff were asked if they could help.

“I remember seeing the reports of the White Island eruption on the news,” Ms Hooper said.

“I was quite upset to hear about it and when they asked if anyone would be interested in going to help out I put my hand up straight away. I've worked at Christchurch Hospital as well for a couple of years so I had this intense feeling of ‘oh no, New Zealand.'”

Her godmother's family was from the Whakatane area, too.

“Although I'm an Aussie, I do feel a connection to New Zealand.”

Ms Hooper found out she had been selected on Christmas Eve and was then put on standby to be ready to leave from December 27 onwards. She arrived in Whakatane on December 30.

”It's actually been an amazing experience for me and I'm just so happy to have been able to come and help out. We've had such a warm welcome and reception from everyone; from the staff here, the people at the accommodation, to locals, everyone has been so generous and so grateful that we're here. It's been spectacular really.”

Bay of Plenty District Health Board interim chief executive Simon Everitt thanked all of the nurses for dropping everything to help.

He said their assistance meant some staff members who had been caught up in the White Island event had been able to get much-needed support over the busy holiday period.

“I want to express our heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the Bay of Plenty DHB and Whakatane Hospital staff,” Mr Everitt said.

“We greatly appreciate our friends from Australia helping us out in a time of need, especially in the face of the emerging situation with the bushfires there.”

Whakatane Hospital Coordinator David van Dijk echoed the message of thanks and said the nurses' attitudes “has been phenomenal”.

“They have given 100 percent from the moment they arrived,” van Dijk said, and he commended their flexibility, willingness to work and their knowledge and experience which was utilised in the Emergency Department and Acute Care Unit.

“It's been a very positive experience following on from a very sad one of course.”

— NZ Herald