Nursing Council suspends Tongan nurse’s licence, accuses her of endangering children

Tongan nurse Vaiola Ha’unga has been accused of risking the health of children in her care.

Ha’unga was accused of continuing to work, even though her practising certificate had been suspended.

The New Zealand Herald reported that she had been the subject of two charges of  professional misconduct.

The first charge related to Ha’unga working as a public health nurse in the Early Childhood Health Team at Starship Community Services, within the former Auckland District Health Board, now Te Whatu Ora Te Toka Tumai Auckland.

She worked with children from high needs families for five years to 2018.

She was found to have failed to meet one or more nursing competencies including documentation, case management, and clinical competence, and failing to undertake one or more essential components of the Well Child/Tamariki Ora programme when ought to have known these were required.

Between October 2018 and March 2020 Ha’unga worked as a nurse in Wellington when her practising certificate had been suspended. This amounted to professional misconduct.

Ha’unga began working at the Starship Community with patients aged from four weeks to five years old. In 2017  concerns were raised about her cases related to documentation, case management and aspects of her clinical care.

She was placed on a series of support programmes and in 2018 was stood down on full pay during an investigation of serious concerns about her competence and conduct.

A supervisor said Ha’unga was unable to “consistently apply knowledge to practice”.

The statement also noted that six children assigned to Ha’unga had never been seen by her.

Ha’unga resigned on May 3, 2018 – the day before she was due to attend a meeting to discuss the outcome of the investigation, but soon after she began working as a special clinical nurse for the Pacific Health Unit for inpatients at Wellington Hospital.

The Nursing Council was advised of the concerns around the nurse’s competency and professional conduct.

Two months later Ha’unga’s case was referred to a Professional Conduct Committee for investigation, but she did not take part.  The Nursing Council then suspended her practising certificate.

In February 2020 as the nurse director at Capital & Coast Health could not find her on the Nursing Council’s register. She rang the Nursing Council and was told the nurse’s practising certificate had been suspended in October 2018. Ha’unga resigned from her position at Capital and Coast DHB and did not return.

Haunga is listed on LinkedIn as having been as a Parish Community Nurse with the Tongan Health Society in Onehunga since 2006.

Her LinkedIn page describes the Parish Community Nursing service as a programme run by the Auckland District Health Board in collaboration with Pacific Churches in Central Auckland to improve their health and well-being.

She is listed as holding a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Health from the University of Auckland and a Bachelor of Health science in Nursing from Manukau Institute of Technology. She also studied for a Master’s of Nursing at Massey University.

For more information

Auckland Starship hospital nurse Vailola Ha’unga struck off, censured for professional misconduct

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