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Looking After Us

How lucky are we to have Darcy and Tania Kemp and their Aotea Health Care Team?

Aotea and the Chatham Islands are different in size, forest cover and farmed land, but share the same big heartedness, says Tania and Darcy Kemp.

The new owners of Aotea Health seemed ‘God sent’ when they arrived to take over from long term owners, Ivan and Leonie Howie and Adele Robertson.

“We had the opportunity to meet with Ivan and he very much gave us his blessing, and thankfully we had all but a signed deal before he passed – that was really, really
important to me. I hugely respected Ivan over the years, from meeting him and Leonie at annual Rural GP Conferences, and working with him on the Chathams when he did locums,” says Tania.

Tania was born and bred on Pitt Island, 23km southeast of Chatham Island, and both of them worked on the remote, weather-wracked islands before moving to the
mainland near Tīmaru and buying a practice there. “We were quite happy at Pleasant Point with no intention of moving.”

Ivan will always remain an inspiration to how we run the practice with his spirit of
giving, says Tania. When recent locum doctor Justin Venable borrowed the old Howie ute, he talked about sensing Ivan punning away in the back seat.

On arrival on Aotea, Tania and Darcy got on with making changes they thought would improve the practice. A new IT system is being installed. “We like using technology to its best, which doesn’t mean replacing anyone, it means enhancing the services we deliver,” says Darcy. We don’t like hierarchy in our organization. Everybody’s as important as everybody else, from the cleaner, reception desk, nurses, and doctor.

Tania’s role as a rural nurse practitioner is new. “We use the same assessment for ordering tests and writing prescriptions as a GP. Our length of training is similar, but more apprentice based than the science orientation of doctors. For the last five days we haven’t had a GP, and I can step into that role.”

Tania says, “we have incredibly skilled and diverse range of nurses.” They have added new healthcare assistant and health coach roles and says she is currently aligning her practice with permanent doctor John North, “a phenomenal doctor who is a lot of fun to work with.”

Some of the Aotea Health Care Team

They have quickly become active in the community. Darcy says he is looking forward to an upcoming community meeting about a visitor management plan and still manages content for the Chatham Island visitor website. Tania has joined the Aotea Māori Women’s Welfare League and is looking forward to their work, drawing on her whakapapa to Ngā Mahanga A Tairi from Taranaki.

“Our reception on the island has been absolutely astounding everywhere we go. It’s not something you experience on the mainland when you move to a new town.”

Tania and Darcy Kemp

Words by Georgie Higham, from Interviews with Tim Higham – Mondays 9-12 on Aotea FM

Access Darcy & Tania’s full interview here:


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