NZNO's Joint Leadership

President and Kaiwhakahaere

These NZNO leadership positions are based on partnership, with shared oversight responsibilities. This includes such areas as policy and strategy, NZNO’s external relationships, membership groups and networks, co-chairing meetings and being the public face of the board and members.

Heather Symes, President

Heather SymesPresident Heather Symes says her values align with those of NZNO: inclusiveness, social justice and concern for the health of all people in Aotearoa New Zealand.  She believes te Tiriti o Waitangi, as our founding document, must be upheld in all discussions and decision making.

She is originally from Ireland and has overseas and New Zealand nursing experience in both private and public health systems.

Heather is a trained general and mental health nurse, and has done significant work in alcohol and drug forensic services. Having worked alongside some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in society she’s learned and believes that everybody matters. She uses that experience in her work as NZNO President.

She believes in robust debate to reach consensus, buts says working together is the key to developing solutions. She is calm in a crisis and prides herself in keeping up-to-date with what is happening nationally and internationally for nursing and health care.

Kerri Nuku, KaiwhakahaereKerri Nuku

Raised in Napier and of Ngāti Kahungunu and Tainui descent, Kerri Nuku is the Kaiwhakahaere for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO). 

Her professional career started as an enrolled nurse before completing her registered comprehensive nurse training through the Hawkes Bay Polytechnic.  Having worked in the maternity area after graduating, Kerri went on to complete her midwifery training in Wellington and eventually took on senior leadership positions including a role as a clinical nurse specialist/team leader.  Kerri finally left the security of the District Health Board and went on to work in the private sector as the New Zealand Director for an International Research Organisation and with another college establishing an independent nursing service before becoming the Kaiwhakahaere.

Kerri believes that nursing is such an exciting profession which offers multiple opportunities for every member to contribute towards achieving optimal health outcomes for individuals, families’ whānau, communities and populations, while also providing nurses with the best opportunity to advocate for our populations.

Kerri lives in the Hawke’s Bay with her whānau and is an active member within her hapu development.


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