Inside Info: Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand Nelson Marlborough

Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand is the main health provider for the Te Tau Ihu, the top of the south. Nearly 3,000 strong, we are Nelson and Marlborough’s largest employer, which means the opportunities here are endless. Our main locations are Nelson Hospital and Wairau Hospital (in Blenheim), and the Richmond and Marlborough Health Hubs, but we are spread across the region and service all parts of the community. Our work can be challenging, but we are up for it. We have a great team and we work hard to make a difference. We value integrity, innovation, respect and teamwork. 

If you are interested in working in health but do not yet have experience, the Health and Wellbeing Apprenticeship Programme allows you to earn, learn, and decide what direction you’d like to go in health.  

The Nelson Marlborough Health and Wellbeing Apprenticeship Programme 

Are you in school and thinking about a future career in health? Are you wondering what options are available and the best way to find out what it’s really like to work in health care? Do you know which NCEA subjects would be best to study to prepare for this? 

Imagine a programme that gives you immediate on-the-job experience in a hospital. Imagine earning an income at the same time. Imagine combining this with doing an online (low or no fee) course of self-directed study in health and wellbeing that gives you a recognised health qualification. If you can imagine this, then you have just imagined the Nelson Marlborough Health and Wellbeing Apprenticeship Programme. 

The apprenticeship programme offers a pathway into a health career for school leavers and people seeking a change in career that doesn’t require that they already have a health care qualification. We are looking for people who are motivated to learn, have a strong work ethic, are great team players, are passionate about caring for others, and can cope with a sometimes-stressful environment. 

The programme is advertised as “The Nelson (or) Marlborough Health and Wellbeing Apprenticeship Programme” and can be found regularly on our website through this link Vacancies – NMDHB ( or else on sites such as TradeMe and Seek. 

The Process 

Once you have lodged an application you will be contacted by the apprenticeship recruiter who will talk you through the programme in more detail and ask you about your interests, availability, and suitability. To enter the programme requires that you be appointed to a vacancy for a Health Care Assistant (HCA) at the hospital in Nelson or Blenheim, or in a community health role related to the hospital. When a good fit is found between an applicant and the requirements of a vacancy, the apprenticeship recruiter will make recommendations to the clinical managers who have vacancies.  This usually leads to a formal interview and then (if successful) a job offer. 

Experience all aspects of healthcare 

Vacancies for HCAs usually become available on an ongoing basis—perhaps in the Emergency Department, Inpatients Unit, Children’s Ward, Intensive Care Unit, Variable Response Team, or some other part of the Hospital. The programme includes a “superskills” training day that equips apprentices with a set of basic skills they can immediately use as they assist nurses and other health staff to care for patients. Typical work includes bed changing, stock control, cleaning and setting up equipment, taking blood pressures and ECGs, assisting with patient personal cares, patient watches, and generally helping staff to ensure the highest quality patient care. 

Formal training is provided  

Alongside on the job learning, apprentices take a course of self-directed study in their own time. This is usually the Level 3 NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing through Careerforce—the training organisation of the NZ Nursing Council. Completion usually takes 12 to 18 months and formally qualifies a person as a Health Care Assistant. This qualification can be treated as an end point career qualification or else used as a steppingstone into higher qualifications—for example as a registered nurse, midwife, or social worker. 

What to Study Now: if you’re in secondary school 

Essential qualifications to enter the programme are NCEA level 1 English and Maths. It is also highly desirable to study health sciences and/or biology and chemistry. Ideally these should be studied to level 3. This will give you a great basis if you chose to subsequently go on to qualify as a nurse, doctor, physiotherapist, or mid-wife—or one of dozens of other health care qualifications available.

Te Whatu Ora is also a Youth Employment Success employer – check out their video HERE and take advantage of the opportunities available such as coffee date, mentoring, business walkthrough or a skills review.