Boost for nursing leadership as Plunket appoints first Chief Nurse

Plunket has appointed Jane O’Malley as its first Chief Nurse, a key appointment to support progress towards delivery of its new strategy and strengthen its focus on nursing leadership. Jane O’Malley will join the Plunket leadership team from her current role as Chief Nursing Officer for the Ministry of Health.

“We are delighted to have someone of Jane’s calibre join our team at this important stage of Plunket’s journey. The new role recognises the importance of the nursing profession to Plunket.  Jane brings a huge kete of skills to Plunket and is highly respected by staff at Plunket and across the nursing sector for her diverse nursing experience and strategic focus. I am certain that Jane will make a significant contribution both within our organisation and the wider health sector as we continue to strive to make the difference of a lifetime to New Zealand children and families,” said Plunket’s Chief Executive Amanda Malu.

Prior to her seven-year tenure as Chief Nursing Officer at the Ministry of Health, Jane was Director of Nursing and Midwifery for the West Coast District Health Board.  She has also been a President of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and is a former clinical nurse manager and nursing academic.

Commenting on her appointment, Jane O’Malley said: “The opportunity to work with the Plunket leadership team to focus on the importance of the first 1000 days of life is one I am very much looking forward to. My aim is to help mobilise the vision of making the difference of a lifetime for young children and their whānau through our nursing staff.”

She added that Plunket nurses and health-workers have a pivotal role to play in the health of New Zealanders through early intervention, using modern and innovative nursing practice: “One of the strategic pillars of modern nursing is partnership, with nurses and families working shoulder to shoulder. Another is nursing leadership, which comes from every single nurse. Our leadership role at the executive level is to set the vision and make sure we have the right processes and accountabilities. It’s also to create the climate and conditions so that people can get on with doing the right thing.”

She said that partnership with others in the health and social sector was also key to supporting families with young children: “Plunket is a really important part of the health system, in true primary care, but we won’t be able to do it without partners. Our role in working toward generational change will take large scale and local effort. We’ve got a huge contribution to make as part of the broader system.”

“I’m really excited about coming to the role, of course I’ll be sad to leave the Ministry, but I’ve had lots of indications from parts of the sector that they want to talk to me as Chief Nurse of Plunket once I get into the role. I’m looking forward to discussing ideas on how we can partner to improve children’s health outcomes.”

Jane steps down from her role as Chief Nursing Officer for the Ministry of Health in February 2018, and joins Plunket as its Chief Nurse in March, based at Plunket’s offices in Christchurch.                    

Notes to editors

  • Plunket celebrated its 110th birthday in May this year. Plunket nurses – then called Karitane nurses – began providing health services to families with young children in 1907.
  • Today, there are around 670 Plunket nurses, kaiawhina and health-workers who see 9 in 10 newborns in New Zealand.
  • A Plunket Nurse is a Registered Nurse who has completed a post graduate certificate in primary health care speciality nursing (Well Child).
  • Plunket nurses provide health assessments by home visits, in clinics, through Plunket mobile clinics, and by partnering with a wide range of other health providers.
  • PlunketLine is the 24/7 helpline for parents, staffed by Plunket nurses. It’s free and you don’t need to be enrolled with Plunket to call.

– ENDS –

About Plunket

For over a century Plunket has supported New Zealand parents to nurture healthy, happy kiwi babies. 

Plunket is a not-for-profit organisation and is New Zealand’s largest provider of services to support the health and development of children under five. 

Plunket is dedicated to working with parents and communities to ensure that New Zealand children get the best start in life. Plunket’s services help families nationwide, through over 300 branches, mobile clinics and a free phone service PlunketLine, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (0800 933 922).

Plunket services are available free to families in New Zealand with children aged 0 to 5. As registered nurses with a postgraduate qualification, Plunket nurses are able to offer high standards of expertise and a range of services to families.

For more information visit

About BNZ – Principal Sponsor

Bank of New Zealand is proud to work hand in hand with Plunket to bring young New Zealand families support when they need it most.

BNZ is proud to have been a part of New Zealand since 1861 and looks forward to supporting another organisation that has been integral to our country's upbringing.


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