For Nigel Henderson it was really only a matter of time before he settled in Taranaki. His connection to the region began long before he was born, with his parents meeting while teaching at Eltham Primary School and his wife Angela growing up in Waitara, Beyond this though, he’d never spent much time in Taranaki.
Nigel’s first foray into the region’s legendary lifestyle came when a house surgeon position opened up at New Plymouth’s Taranaki Base Hospital, which despite the lure of Taranaki’s surf, was brief – the Hendersons found themselves moving around New Zealand as registrars, before settling in Adelaide, attracted to the career opportunities the city provided.
“Having grown up in rural Southland, where everyone knows everyone, I was looking for a sense of community,” Nigel says. “We didn’t find that in Adelaide, plus the cost of living seemed really high.”
In 2013 a chance arose to return to New Plymouth as a surgeon and the recently redeveloped Taranaki Base Hospital. Nigel and Angela, along with their young daughters Amelie and Paige, leapt at the opportunity.
“We wanted to raise our family in a smaller city where we knew the community and felt welcome, plus the lifestyle benefits for a family is amazing - everything here is either free or really cost effective.”
A typical weekend will likely involve a mix of mountain biking, road cycling, hiking or swimming, and the coastal lifestyle features strongly - oldest daughter Amelie is following in Dad’s footsteps and learning to surf.
Nigel thinks that the region tends to fly under the radar of many in the medical profession, but notes that career-wise the move to Taranaki has been a great one, enabling him to get wide-ranging experience that has quickly filled the gaps in their knowledge.
“Taranaki District Health Board allows specialists to work both publically and privately, which is very attractive to doctors,” Nigel notes. “The hospital has a wonderful community feel to it is recognised that staff have a life outside of work.”
If Nigel does rounds during the weekend, for instance, his girls will often tag along - something that goes down well with both dad and patients.
Angela has also found the move home to be a good one, easily finding work as a dental hygienist, and relishing the sense of community, proximity to her family, and career and lifestyle benefits.
“We’re definitely putting down roots here. We’ve purchased a rural block just outside of New Plymouth and are building our dream home and planting an orchard,” says Nigel.
“We couldn’t be happier in Taranaki. Everything we need is right here!”