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Charge Nurse Manager retires after 47 years of service at Wairau Hospital

Brenda McAlpine, a charge Nurse Manager at Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough, has retired after 47 years of service.

Born and raised in Blenheim, Brenda trained to become a Registered Nurse at Wairau Hospital from 1977 to 1980 and lived alongside other student nurses in the staff residence on hospital grounds.

Brenda McAlpine qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1980

Soon after qualifying, Brenda began her successful career in surgical wards and the intensive care unit at Wairau Hospital. After four years, she transitioned to the position of Charge Nurse Manager where she continued to work in surgical wards, before moving to community nursing and support services. During this time, her responsibilities expanded to include district, community oncology and palliative care nursing, as well as coordinating home help and meals on wheels services.

Over the years, Brenda worked alongside colleagues to introduce new and improved healthcare initiatives, some of which continue to benefit the local community to this day.

The introduction of a home-based intravenous (IV) therapy programme in 2006 removed the need for patients to remain in or travel to hospital for treatment, and a specialist wound nursing service assisted people with wound management at home. Both marked advancements in nursing care at the time.

From 2008 – 2011, Brenda took the opportunity to join user groups who provided clinical expertise and advice for the Wairau Hospital Redevelopment. The project successfully transformed the core of the hospital and refurbished remaining areas to create a sustainable facility for the community. 

Following completion of the redevelopment, she went on to work in outpatient services which involved coordinating clinics, ensuring rooms and equipment were always available for staff in various departments and developing nursing teams to adapt to new processes.

Most recently, Brenda played a pivotal role in the upgrade of the outpatient department which was successfully completed in March this year, and resulted in several new spaces such as a new ophthalmology suite, a procedure room with an accessible bathroom and waiting area, seven clinical consulting rooms, an administration and nurse workspace and a utility room.

Brenda said:

“During training at Wairau Hospital, we had some great times and made many memories.

“Over the years, things have developed to benefit patients, their whanau, clinicians and staff.”

Though Brenda is happy to have retired and plans include travel, more caravan trips and spending time with close family and friends, there are things she will miss.

“I’ll miss the people, my work colleagues. I’ve had some really great teams to work with, and good teamwork always makes things easier. We’ve done pretty well over the years to make a difference to the community’s experiences with local health services. Wairau Hospital has been a great place to work”, she said.

 Brenda McAlpine left stands next to granddaughter Halle at her retirement afternoon tea3

If you’re inspired by Brenda’s story and would like more information on nursing, and how to become a nurse, please visit