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Finalists for this year’s Trainee of the Year award came from the home and community, aged care and youth work sectors. All finalists are highly commended by their employers and colleagues. They exemplify dedication to their jobs, and commitment to provide quality care to their clients. They used the knowledge and skills they learnt through on-the-job training to continuously improve the way they support their clients.


Diane Joy Tait

Support Worker

Access Community Health-Canterbury

Local Ashburton Support Worker Diane Joy Tait of Access Community Health is a finalist for the Trainee of the Year award category. Her influence in the community and her role have been recognised at a higher level. After being employed at Access Community Health for six years, she has completed the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing Level 4 (Advanced Support). Diane likes to demonstrate by example, while training to developing her own skill base.

“I believe the ongoing education and training with Careerforce is hugely helpful with my decision-making in my job. Often when working in end of life care, there is close family involved. Training has enabled me to work fully with both my clients and families and shown me ways to work through and reflect on my own feelings when our clients pass away.”

Diane believes it is important in the health sector that clients are offered choice to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.  “New Zealand faces a dramatic increase in the elderly population over the next 3 to 5 years. A shortage of qualified staff to work in the homecare sector is a challenge.  Staff accessing training to ensure a high level of care for all our clients. I hope my path shows the rewards of training and encourage future care workers to enter the workforce.”


Santana Ngamoki

Stop Smoking Practitioner

Tipu Ora, Rotorua

Stop Smoking Practitioner and community health worker Santana Ngamoki is up for two awards at the first Careerforce Training Excellence Awards – Trainee of the Year and Māori Trainee of the year. Santana works for Tipu Ora primary health, social and education provider. She works with people in a one to one service and in groups as well as in the community to encourage support and refer people to quit smoking.

Completing the New Zealand Certificate in Youth Work Level 3 and Smoking Cessation Programme with Careerforce has reignited a love of learning and has inspired her to look into future study.

“A year ago I thought my greatest accomplishment would be in my work as a practitioner out in the community, now I play an active role in the development and coordination of our service.”

She strongly believes in encouraging the smoke-free message starting with their family and whānau as the country works towards the goal of being smoke-free by 2025. Santana’s colleague Amanda Te Whau says the way in which she has implemented all aspects of her training has really been impressive.

“Santana is bursting with passion, creativity and motivation to make a difference in the community, she has exceeded all expectations bringing about significant change through her work.”


Roxana Thornton

Diversional Therapist

Homstead Ilam, Christchurch

Roxana Thorton from Homestead Ilam in Christchurch is one of the finalists for Trainee of the Year. Roxana is a Diversional Therapist and training coordinator for the staff at private rest home and hospital – Homestead Ilam. After her Grandma passed away three years ago after a battle with dementia, she felt a need to do more for her and a calling to help others.

When she moved to New Zealand and begun working at Homestead Ilam she “knew she was born to work in aged care.” She has since worked through the Careerforce training programme completing a certificate in Level 3 and then Level 4 certificate in Diversional Therapy. She now runs the training for her fellow staff.

Homestead Ilam Nurse Manager, Theressa Kelly says, “Roxy, teaches us all new skills to apply in our daily practice to improve the wellbeing and lives of those we care for. She has brought a new atmosphere into the home with her innovative personalised activities and upbeat positive attitude and an emphasis on resident goal setting.”

Roxana’s passion and commitment to her work is apparent, when she was knocked of her bike and nursing a broken leg she was still in at work in a wheel chair. She is actively involved in the wider community as President of the Diversional Therapists Support Group in Christchurch. She is also involved with setting up a Trust called ‘Music Moves Me Canterbury’ that brings music to people with dementia. She believes that over the next 3-5 years there will be significant challenges facing clients and the services they receive.

“I think a shift in generations along with an ageing population will contribute to this. Socially there will be more pressure on care services due to the volume of elderly needing care. I fear residents will may not receive adequate standards of care and may feel lonely and neglected due to low levels of staff. I believe ongoing education and support groups can help us move with the times and set high standard of precedence to the new staff coming into the sector.”