Rangi Harrison

Rangi Harrison

Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Kahungunu

Bachelor of Nursing with Honours

Rangi Harrison

As a high school student, Rangi Harrison (Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Kahungunu) knew she wanted to work in a career where she could help people.

Now, as a registered nurse working part-time in the Emergency Department (ED) at Waikato Hospital, Rangi, 24, is making a positive difference to the lives of patients.

“I’ve always been passionate about helping people. You couldn’t be in this job if you didn’t want to help people.”

In October, she will be among the first cohort to graduate from the University of Waikato’s new Bachelor of Nursing (Honours) degree.

“After all the hard work we’ve put in, it’s exciting to be on the other side with my fellow graduates,” says Rangi.

The honours programme was established by the University in partnership with Te Whatu Ora Waikato to boost the number of nursing leaders in the Waikato area.

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The BNurs(Hons) students were mentored by senior nurses and executive team leaders at Te Whatu Ora, developing not only their clinical and research skills, but leadership and managerial skills.

Rangi is grateful for the support and one-on-one mentoring she's received from the Nursing team at the University, including Professor of Gerontology Matthew Parsons, Director of Nursing Cheryl Atherfold, Senior Lecturer Donna Foxall, and Nurse Consultant Cultural Workforce Development Chris Baker.

I’ve had experience [studying at] other universities, but there was definitely a different approach in terms of how the papers were taught at Waikato – in terms of the level of support given by the staff here.


There was flexibility and a listening ear if students were struggling.

“If we were having a bad day or needed extra support, there was someone we could talk to. And it didn’t just stop at nurse managers, it went to the nursing directors both at the University and the hospital, so you knew at a multilayered approach you were supported.”

The most valuable part of doing the BNurs(Hon) was “connection-making”, says Rangi.

“I met a lot of people on my [degree] journey – CEOs from companies, nurse operational managers, who came and presented what they do in their job and their style of leadership. This programme was developed to advance leaders of the future, so seeing those different leadership styles helped us to grow our leadership styles and gain mentors and other contacts.”

The “really good relationship” and “regular communication” between the University of Waikato and Te Whatu Ora Waikato benefitted students, says Rangi.

Rangi’s thesis research topic, provided by Te Whatu Ora Waikato, explored the effectiveness of the Patient at Risk (PAR) nursing team at Waikato Hospital.

During her research, she gained valuable insights into the role this vital team of nursing "superheroes" played at the hospital, and how they supported junior and senior nurses.

Along with her work in the hospital ED, Rangi works part-time as a Clinical Academic at the University, tutoring undergraduate nursing students in practice. In addition, she holds a Māori advisory role in Nursing at the University, supporting several PhD and hospital research projects.

One of them is looking at how to combat sepsis, one is looking at AI tools in healthcare, another is looking at how we can theorise mechanical studies into aged healthcare.


Her role involves advising researchers on how they can incorporate a te ao Māori perspective into their research.

In 2023, Rangi was awarded a doctoral scholarship by the University and, in 2024, will begin her PhD in Health Science at Waikato Her PhD thesis is tentatively titled: What's the CATCH - improving the traffic jam in Waikato hospitals Emergency Department.

Her cohort of fellow BNurs(Hons) graduates - including Emma Drake, Stefan Heinz, Jolene Voogt, and Samantha Teinakore - became close during their studies, and they continue to support one another – as well as the next generation.

“From the day we first started, we caught up regularly for coffee, pizza, and drink catch ups. I think most of us have decided to go on to do a PhD, so we will all go on and struggle together, which is nice. We have also kept in touch with the next intake, because we all know how tough it is, especially being part of that first pilot group at Waikato.”

Rangi Harrison