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By Kelly Loney, Taranaki District Health Board Communications Advisor
Te Puna Waiora fits with Stu’s strengths. He loves his job. “I like meeting people, listening to people and helping people. I get on well with people,” Stu says. It’s clear Stu has a big heart and is proud of his work, and even though patients are mentally unwell, they remember his name. Stu started at Te Puna Waiora (TPW) just before COVID-19 kicked in, when he moved to Taranaki from Waikato (Ngati Maniapoto), where he’s from.
Te Puna Waiora is a 30-bed unit at Taranaki Base Hospital, catering for the needs of people with acute mental illness. “After two days off, I can’t wait to get back in here – see who’s new, who’s back,” Stu says. Stu’s part of a core group of security officers who work around the clock at TPW, covering the areas of mental health inpatients and outpatients, and the alcohol and drugs service.
Armourguard regional manager Steve Jury says “Stu is a long-serving, old-school security officer, who’s well regarded within the company”. He’s worked as a security officer since 1986, starting at Waikato Hospital on night security then transferring to Huntly Power Station. He’s run security for Mystery Creek Field Days, the Home and Garden Show and for seven years Stu managed more than 100 staff from Thames to Taumaranui, as operations supervisor with Armourguard.
In recent times, he took a year off to work at the Frankton Park brain injuries rehabilitation centre and thoroughly enjoyed it. The job satisfaction is in making a difference, he says.
He avoids conflict, and instead offers security with his presence. Sometimes Stu is called up to be a comforting face to call out “Kia ora whānau” reassuringly from the waiting room. Sometimes Stu’s calming company to “just sit alongside”.
Stu always introduces himself to new patients. “They’re unwell, but they still remember my name. They appreciate the time you give them. It doesn’t take much but it means a lot”. “You kōrero with them. Te Reo and lingo calms things down. Being a people person goes a long way, it makes your job easier. In this game, you need to be seen.”
Stu sums up the keys to being a security officer are having good communication and being able to multi-task. He’s dealt with gangs and challenging people, “and it’s all in the way you approach them”.
Although his partner’s keen for him to retire, Stu’s far from being ready to hang up his boots yet. “There’s only so much fishing I can do. It’s my home away from home here, I’ve got too much to do.”
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