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Two nurses celebrate 100 years of Wellington service

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 7 December 2023

Two nurses at Wellington Hospital will be celebrating 100 years of full-time nursing between them at a gathering at the Hospital at 10am on Friday 8 December.

Theatre enrolled nurse Jenny Kendall has been in the profession since 1968 and has worked in Wellington Hospital for the last 48+ years. Theatre enrolled nurse Silaina Sione, originally a registered nurse from Samoa, has spent the last 52 years of her 59-year nursing career there as well.

“It’s been eight-hour days the whole time and we’ve been rotating through the shifts (mornings afternoons, evenings and weekends) like any other nurse,” says Jenny,  

The pair say they always wanted to be nurses and never really considered anything else as a career. For both it was the caring and looking after people that attracted them.

“It’s been really rewarding, but things have quite deteriorated over the last decade. We have had real problems with short staffing and a tightening fiscal purse around health – and that has made things really hard.”

She says that, as a theatre nurse, progress in technology that can help patients has been a highlight.

Silaina says surgery is now often much less invasive , which makes a real difference.

A lot of surgery is now performed as day cases and patients can go home after a few hours rather than a few days. Patients can be up and about much quicker, which is better for their recovery.

“We’ve also seen the role of the nurse increase in inter-disciplinary teams, and this has been wonderful acknowledgement of the skills we bring.”

Jenny says one of the biggest challenges has come through her 40-year role as a delegate for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO).

“Management often don’t want to hear what you have to say as a delegate, and they can be quite resistant. That makes the job of liaising between the union and members around health and safety or workplace conditions issues really difficult, but you carry on because the work is really important.”

“Being elected as a lead delegate has made a big difference through being visible around the hospital and able to help solve issues with both management and colleagues.

The women say that, despite the 100 years they have clocked up between them, they are not thinking of retiring soon.

I’ve got less than 18 months until I hit 50 years, and I certainly want to achieve that before I’m done,” Jenny says. “Perhaps we’ll have an even bigger celebration then!”

The celebration on Friday will be attended by health staff from across Wellington Hospital and will include ex-employees who have been there at various stages thought the two women’s careers.


Note: journalists wishing to attend the 10am celebration will need to call the hospital and clear their visit with the communications team.

Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 |

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