Missie, cervical screening stalwart retires

14 November 2017

Hauroa Tairāwhiti said goodbye recently to Cervical Screening Team Leader Missie Winiata after (almost) 25 years working for the DHB. 

Missie is very appreciative of her time at Hauora Tairāwhiti. “I was an older person when I started working and I think this has made me very grateful for all the opportunities I have been provided, including completing the Certificate in Health Promotion.” 

As one of 13 in her family, she never finished school when her mum passed away. Missie lived on farms and went on to have seven children of her own. While living at Patutahi, a public health course was run by Te Runanga o Tūranganui a Kiwa to encourage people to help with public health education in their rural community. “One of the assignments on cervical screening really stood out for me. It led to a part-time data entry job with the cervical screening programme.” 

One of the highlights of Missie’s career was working on the Gisborne Cervical Screening Enquiry after it was found that smears had been misread. “I worked for the Ministry of Health for nine months contacting local women about their smear.” 

“Thousands of women locally were affected and most just took the news in their stride. It was a very humbling experience. One of the findings of the enquiry was that the programme register should be rebuilt to be population based. This was done in 2008. Because of my time with the Gisborne Enquiry, I knew what was needed and worked with the Ministry and managers from five other DHBs on the development. This work enabled the register to be interactive with GP’s records and for DHB staff to intervene and check.” 

“Since then we have worked hard to built strong relationships with GP practices to ensure a seamless process for women. In 25 years I saw real progress but there is still a significant challenge getting Māori women to have their smears regularly. The Support for Service contract with Tūranga Health and Ngāti Porou Hauora that gets people to their appointments is making a difference.” 

“I have a passion for this work and feel a real responsibility for the women. That is what I am going to miss the most." Missie will be playing more golf and spending time with her 18 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.