BHSc Western Sydney, BA(Psych) Macquire University, PGCertHSc Otago, PGDipHSc & MNsg Auckland
Ko Puhanga Tohoroa to maunga
Ko Punakitere te awa
Ko Ngatokimatawharorua te waka
Ko Ngati Pakau te hapu
Ko Ngapuhi nui tonu te iwi
Ko Matakohu Tauhinu toko tupuna whaea
Ko Dora Davis toku whaea
Ko Vi raua ko Alec Morriss oku matua whaangi
Ko Louise Leonard taku ingoa
He Maatanga Tapuhi
E mahi ana ahau ke Te Whatu Ora, Waikato ruaua ko Kaiako o Te Whare Waanaga O Waikato Tapuuhi Neehi raraua ko Kaiako Waipapa Taumata Rau
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa
Louise Leonard pepeha indicates her Ngapuhi descent, although she was adopted at birth and raised by a Pakeha family in Kemeureti-Cambridge. Fortunately, her adoptive family provided a loving and supportive environment. Despite this, the closed adoption policies of the time resulted in a disconnection from her whakapapa, a journey she has been working to reconnect with.
During high school, Louise organised a fundraiser to establish a drug and alcohol rehabilitation service in Hamilton. This experience ignited her passion for healthcare and addiction-related issues, influencing her career path. She began her nursing career as a general and obstetric nurse trained in a hospital setting at Waikato Hospital, gaining experience in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
In 2004, Louise returned to New Zealand to be closer to her ancestral roots and continue her journey of cultural identity reclamation. She entered addiction nursing in Australia, and upon returning to New Zealand, she joined the Community Alcohol and Drug Service (CADS) in Kikrikiroia - Hamilton.
At CADS, she pioneered the development of addiction nursing roles, starting as a Clinical Nurse Specialist and progressing to become a Clinical Nurse Manager. Her determination led her to achieve her goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP) specialising in Addictions, making her the first Māori NP in this field in 2012. She later expanded her scope to include Mental Health.
Louise Leonard remains an active member of Te Whatu Ora Waikato, Community Alcohol and Drug Service. She holds academic positions with the University of Auckland and the University of Waikato Post Graduate School of Nursing. She serves as an Academic Mentor, contributing to developing and delivering Nurse Practitioner programs.
Louise has taken on leadership roles throughout her career, serving as Board Chair for the Midlands Needle Exchange and Vice Chair for the national board (NEST). She continues to contribute to the ADIO Trust board. She was also actively engaged internationally, serving as the New Zealand representative and International Vice President for Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasian (Inc.). Together with her colleagues, she played a pivotal role in establishing the Addiction Nursing Branch of Te Ao Maaramatanga, the College of Mental Health Nurses of Aotearoa, New Zealand, where she served as the Inaugural Chair and is currently a member.
Passionate about mental health and addiction nursing and the role of Nurse Practitioners, Louise believes in making a difference in the lives of tangata whaiora and whanau who face substance-related harm and co-occurring mental and physical health challenges. She emphasises a comprehensive approach, from prevention to intervention, for individuals dealing with substance use and its consequences.
Louise is a staunch advocate for equitable healthcare access, particularly for Māori, Pacific Island people, and other marginalised groups who often face stigmatisation, prejudice, and the impacts of institutionalised racism within the healthcare system. Her dedication to improving the lives of those often disenfranchised by the system underscores her commitment to social justice and equity in healthcare.