Aotea Health was formed in August of 1994 by these three amazing people: Rural Nurses Adele Robertson, Leonie Howie, and Leonie’s husband, the late Dr Ivan Howie.

Together, this formidable trio have been the drivers, providing and promoting cradle-to-grave healthcare to this island community from both Claris and Port Fitzroy for the best part of 30 years. As the leaders of the expanded health team over more recent years, they have continued to advocate for the islanders and for equity in healthcare, particularly in rural settings.

From operating out of a caravan, to running a busy health centre and satellite clinic this team have been through numerous health reforms, 7 different prime ministers and a confusion of governments. They have individually and collectively written about their vocations and about rural practice and all three are held in high regard in the health sector, from one end of the country to the other and from the Chathams in the east to the bottom of the soggiest corners of the West Coast.

The Great Barrier Island Community Health Trust works closely with Aotea Health to provide facilities and equipment to enable Aotea Health to get on with the job of providing the health services needed on this remote island.

The Aotea Health mission statement highlights the commitment that Ivan, Leonie and Adele have given to health services on this island:

Aotea Health will provide an innovative, multi-disciplinary, culturally sensitive primary health and disability support service that is affordable, accessible, and especially structured to meet the needs of residents and visitors to Aotea Great Barrier Island, so that they are not disadvantaged by being isolated from mainland services and are supported and encouraged in their efforts to maintain an optimum standard of health.


To provide sustainable Māori  health management to improve the quality of life for Māori on Aotea – while preserving those visions and qualities unique to Māori.

Acknowledging and promoting article two of Te Tiriti O’ Waitangi that health is a treasured possession (taonga) worthy of protection.

The Aotea Health Logo was designed by Dr Ivan Howie and is representative of the shape of Aotea Great Barrier Island, reflective of the cycle of life, and of the ‘cradle-to-the-grave’ nature of healthcare on Aotea and also acknowledging mana whenua, the kaitiaki and indigenous people of Aotea.

Fast Forward to 2023

In July this year, ownership of Aotea Health passed to Tania and Darcy Kemp.

Tania is a very experienced rural Nurse Practitioner with a background on the Chatham Islands, the West Coast and prior to moving to Aotea, 10 years in South Canterbury, where they both worked in the general practice they owned there. Tania is a past Chair of the New Zealand Nursing Council and is a passionate advocate for the role of nurses.

Darcy has a background in IT -computers, commercial fishing and education. He has been a practice manager for the past 10 years.