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Student Voice

6 March 2019

Filipino Nurse Enjoying Life and Study in Tauranga

Filipino Nurse Enjoying Life and Study in Tauranga

Aimee Robinos is humble, compassionate and warm – three traits that make for a lovely person and an excellent nurse.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Aimee trained as a nurse before moving to the Middle East with her husband to earn some valuable work experience. Seven years on, the Robinos were ready for the next stage of life and New Zealand sounded like the perfect place to start a family.

“Moving to Tauranga was not a spur of the moment decision – it is a dream come true! Seeing the place…it’s close to heaven.”

Aimee arrived on her own in September, 2018 with plans for her husband Joseph to follow when he can.  

Since arriving in Tauranga, Aimee has fallen in love with the Mount which she compares to the Philippine's beautiful Boracay island. She’s found her tribe within a local church and is learning about New Zealand’s healthcare system through her health services management studies at Tauranga’s Aspire2 International. And she can’t wait for her husband’s upcoming visit in June!

Life in the PhilipPines

Aimee comes from Koronadal, which translates as the Philippines’ ‘crown of the south’. In many ways it is like paradise – tropical climate, coconut trees and close-knit families.

Simplicity is the way of life in Koronadal, but in a country where nurses are overworked and underpaid, Aimee and Joseph decided it was time for a change. They wanted to live somewhere where they could earn a decent income as they prepared to start a family of their own.

Seven Years in Saudi Arabia

Motivated to save money to support their future children, Aimee and Joseph moved to Saudi Arabia. Life there was enriching, exposing them to different cultures, kind people and excellent career development.

But it was also stressful and the vastly different ways of life for women and Christians in Saudi Arabia cemented in the Robinos’ minds that this was not their forever home.

Aimee’s Move to Tauranga

For Aimee, who moved to Tauranga in September 2018, New Zealand is idyllic – the perfect place to raise a family with its clean, green and safe environment.

She knew of New Zealand’s reputation and had seen images of the country, but on arrival she was still shocked by the country’s beauty. There was no need for filters or photoshop – it was even more stunning in person.

Aimee is particularly fascinated by the birds freely and confidently roaming the streets, unafraid of humans.

“You don’t see that in the Philippines. They’d be caught and made into food.”

Aimee also loves Mount Maunganui and has hiked up at five am to watch the sunrise. She sent a photo of the summit view to her husband who uses it as his Facebook cover photo. 

"When I first saw Mount Maunganui next to the sea - the green and the blue, the nature, the white sand beach – I thought, how is this in the city? In the Philippines I needed to travel two hours to get to the beach. It’s a luxury to see this view."

Studying Health Services Management at Aspire2 International

Aimee and her husband decided it was best for her to come to New Zealand as a student, gaining an appreciation for the culture, meeting new people and learning about the local healthcare sector before seeking a nursing role.

“We thought that if I study here first I will have more time to adjust to the new place, giving me time to learn about New Zealand.”

Aimee started a health services management course with Aspire2 International in October 2018. It is a year-long diploma for health professionals interested in taking on management responsibilities. The course emphasises self-directed study and hands-on learning. Aimee is learning about how the healthcare system works, building leadership skills, delivering presentations and undertaking research.

Aspire has employment assistance, can help her craft a CV, network and even endorse her when it comes time to look for a nursing job. The school warmly welcomed Aimee to New Zealand, arranging a shuttle to pick her up from Auckland Airport and temporary accommodation for when she first arrived in Tauranga.

Nursing in New Zealand

In contrast to nursing in the Philippines, Aimee was shocked to discover that nurses in New Zealand were well regarded and work opportunities were good.

“Not long after I arrived a lady at the bank asked what I do. I was shocked to hear her respond, ‘oh good, we need a lot of nurses here!’”

To become a nurse here, Aimee has to pass a competence assessment programme and an English language exam. With vast experience in wound care, rehabilitation and emergencies, Aimee is optimistic that her nursing knowledge will help her become a fully qualified nurse here in her new home.


With nursing on the skilled shortage list, Aimee qualifies for a study and work visa, which allows her to work for up to 20 hours a week. Skyla Scott, Aspire2 International's Employment Specialist and Business Tutor, helped her secure a healthcare assistant job at Ultimate Care Group's Oakland rest home.

“I enjoy my job, it’s sort of like taking care of your grandparents. They are full of stories and it is so rewarding to see them smile, happy as they age.”

But the job is not without challenges. It is more physically demanding than nursing without requiring the same skills and knowledge. It can also be disheartening to see the memory gaps that too often come along with aging.

“They treat us like family, it’s hard not to open up to them. But you have to keep boundaries. We are here to help them, not the other way around.”

Still it is rewarding for Aimee to know that in her own little way she’s helping people age more gracefully and with dignity.

Tauranga’s Filipino Community

Church is an important part of life for most Filipinos, so it’s no surprise that one of the first things Aimee did upon settling into Tauranga was find a church.

“The first Sunday I was here I looked for the church which I was told was the best place to meet other Filipinos. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, it really helped me keep homesickness away.”

Her church, Sanctuary of Grace, has a strong Filipino community as well as pakeha and Maori New Zealanders. Her pastor is very warm and the church’s music ministry head took Aimee under her wing.

“I go to Church every Sunday if I’m not working. Aside from the religious side, it’s also the chance to meet my spiritual family. Church is a very stress-relieving experience.”

Cultural Differences between Tauranga and the PhiliPpines

“The people are so friendly here, strangers say hi to you on the street.”

Used to knowing everyone in her local community, it was a surprise for complete strangers to greet each other so warmly. Where at first she wasn’t sure how to respond to a friendly cashier asking about her day, six months in, she’s greeting people on the street and offering her friendly smile with ease.

“It's amazing how much a smile or a ‘hi’ can change a person’s day.”

The pace of life is faster than in the Philippines, where Aimee says there’s more chit chat, more leisure time and you’re always surrounded by other people. She misses the food – like adobo chicken, the nation's most popular dish – and the closeness of multigenerational Filipino families living under one roof.

Keeping in touch

It is not uncommon for Filipino couples to spend months, years even, apart – but that doesn’t make it any easier. Aimee speaks to her husband talk every day, even if only via messenging apps on their phone.

Luckily, Joseph is coming here for a visit in June – a trip Aimee is beyond excited about!

“It will be his first time in New Zealand. I’m so excited to show him around and see him after so long apart. We will mostly stay in Tauranga but will also go to Mount Ruapehu to see snow for the first time!”

Advice for others wanting to study here

"First, keep your mind open and keep your eyes open to opportunities. Theres a lot of opportunities here, be positive and optimistic with the challenges. It is not easy to move to a new country, but you will learn from the challenges."



Join us on Facebook and contact Regional Relationship Manager Melissa Gillingham for more information:

Melissa Gillingham

 Regional Relationship Manager

 Education Tauranga

 Tel: +64 7 571 1401 ext. 707 | Mob: +64 21 724 272    
 Address: Private Bag 13057, Tauranga 3141, New Zealand  
 Email me