About the team at First Vets Whanganui
Nicola is one of those rare people who knew what she wanted to do from a very young age. Born and raised on a sheep & beef farm in Southland, Nicola was introduced to the importance of animal health at a young age. After moving to the North Island to undertake her veterinary study at Massey University in 1987; the warmth of the North was too appealing, and so she moved to Whanganui in 1991, initially working as a mixed animal veterinarian, before developing her interest in small animal clinical practice. Nicola went on and established the VetCare Veterinary Nursing training in Whanganui which she successfully ran for 15 years, while also continuing to practice as a vet.
Nicola has an interest in building a business that delivers outstanding customer service, has a preventative focus towards animal health and welfare, offers Whanganui animal owners a real choice, and importantly, is a fun and inviting place for customers and colleagues. Nicola’s special interests include small animal medicine, diagnostics and education. She is also privileged to be involved in helping with the selection of students into the BVSc programme at Massey – giving back to her profession in different ways is important to her.
Family is central for Nicola, with her two boys, a household of pets and her husband, spare time is at a premium. You may see her running with Max (the Border Collie), garden shopping, or taxiing her boys to the next event.
Nicola is looking forward to welcoming you to First Vets soon!
Meet Catherine, one of our awesome veterinarians! Originally hailing from Otago, Catherine had a very interesting childhood. At age 8, her family moved overseas and she completed her schooling years in China and Kuwait. From a young age, Catherine knew she wanted to be a vet, and returned to New Zealand after high school to start vet school. After graduating from Massey University in 2013, she initially moved to Taranaki to work in mixed animal practice. There, she met her husband and joined him on his fourth-generation family farm just outside of Waverley.
The variety and unpredictability that veterinary work brings is just one of the reasons Catherine loves being a veterinarian. Catherine loves being able to make a difference to patients’ lives, and to build relationships with clients while working with them to ensure their animals receive the best possible outcome. She also appreciates the challenges veterinary medicine brings – if only animals could tell us themselves what is wrong!
For Catherine, it’s hard to narrow down her favourite areas of veterinary medicine – however, preventative health, diagnostics, surgery and education are areas of veterinary medicine she is passionate about.
Catherine can often be found out on the family farm, where she is a self-appointed boss of all things related to animal health! She is actively involved with Young Farmers and enjoys taking opportunities to try new things – from sky-diving, to recently learning how to ski. Catherine also enjoys travelling, strategic board-games, and spending time with family and friends. Her animal family includes two Labradors (Bear and Cru), Felix the cat, George and Mildred the miniature kunekunes, four special sheep, and many named pet cows and calves.
Catherine is excited to be a part of the First Vets family and is looking forward to meeting many more of our clients and their pets!
Meet Julene, a wonderful addition to our veterinary team!
Julene was born in Whanganui and attended school here, after which she completed her veterinary studies at Massey in Palmerston North in 1994, graduating with distinction. Since graduating, Julene has worked in veterinary practices in various locations around New Zealand. Most recently, she has been locuming as a companion animal vet in the lower North Island, and has enjoyed picking up tips from different clinics while furthering her skills and knowledge.
As a veterinarian, Julene loves the variety that veterinary work brings, and that there is always something new to learn in her job. She enjoys challenging herself to always do things better, whether that involves improving pain management techniques, learning new surgical or medical techniques or finding new ways to make things easier for animals and their owners. Julene is passionate about always learning and improving, and helping people to help their animals. In her non-veterinary life, Julene is passionate about conservation and the environment. Julene’s hobbies include riding her bike, walking, going to the gym, going to cafes and restaurants, quizzes, travelling, listening to music, going to shows, and reading and researching.
Julene also has a 10 year old son named Eli whilst Milo, Milly, and 2 red shaver chickens make up Julene’s animal family. Milo was rescued from a bin in Auckland and brought to Wanganui and rehomed to Julene’s family – he is very accident prone! Recently, Milly the 9 year old Cavoodle also joined the family – she is a great walking companion. The 2 red shavers are impressive egg producers and help with the compost production.
Julene considers Whanganui a great place to live and is excited about coming back to work here and seeing you and your animals soon!
Meet James! James is originally from the northwest coast of Tasmania in Australia. Growing up on the Tasmanian coast, James was surrounded by more animals than people, so his passion for becoming a veterinarian began at a young age.
He graduated in 2010 with his Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Honors), and has worked in the New South Wales, and Queensland states, then made the jump across the ditch to New Zealand. Over his time since graduation James has worked in companion animal practice, production animal practice, animal welfare, and regulatory practices. He’s quite the all-rounder! Although James is happy to be back in a companion animal practice.
James’ favourite part of being a vet is educating his clients about their animals and working alongside people and their animals to prevent illness. He also finds veterinary medicine fascinating. James loves helping animals get better from illness, but his passion lies in preventative medicine, and population health. He has keen interests in the intersections between animals, humans, and environmental health.
When James is not in the clinic you may find him sipping on a strong coffee and reading a great page-turning book. He enjoys exploring new places, meeting new people, and trying different cuisines. It’s also not uncommon for James to pumping iron with some heavy barbells or playing a challenging boardgame! Like many, he enjoys long walks on the beach, but his preference is long walks up mountains. While he loves rock climbing and snowboarding, he did admit its not his forte currently – but he is keen on improving his skill set!
At home James and his partner have two standard Poodles, Dougal, and Dara. James says they are great dogs, but terrible housemates with a passion for landscaping (digging…) and very closely supervising his cooking!
James can’t wait to meet you!
Cert VN (Veterinary Nurse)
Meet Cheryl, another one of the awesome veterinary nurses in the First Vets team! Cheryl has lived and worked in Whanganui most of her life, and brings a wealth of career and life experience to our team. Her veterinary nursing career began in 2005 and since then she has continued to expand her skills in the profession she loves.
It’s hard for Cheryl to pin down what she likes best about veterinary nursing – because she loves it all! From the interaction with clients and their animals, to the teamwork, and the technical aspects of nursing, Cheryl’s passion and dedication shines through and she’s always ready to go the extra mile. Her special professional interest is surgical nursing.
Cheryl has always loved animals, and this means she finds her line of work extremely rewarding. In her down time, Cheryl loves to be around family and friends, whether out on adventures or just relaxing at home. Her treasured animal family keeps her very busy – between 3 dogs, 3 cats, a very cheeky rainbow lorikeet, and some goldfish, it is clear her love of animals doesn’t stop at work!
We know you will feel taken care of by Cheryl, and she looks forward to meeting you soon!
BVetTech (Veterinary Technician)
Meet Emma, our enthusiastic veterinary technician! Emma was born and raised in Hamilton, and moved to Palmerston North in 2016 to complete her Bachelor of Veterinary Technology (BVetTech) degree. After a short time back in the Waikato, Emma moved to Whanganui to join the First Vets crew.
There are many areas of being a veterinary technician that Emma enjoys. In particular, building trusting relationships with patients and clients is important to Emma, and she loves to see patients leave the clinic happy and healthy! On the technical side of the job, Emma particularly enjoys anaesthesia, and hopes to join the AVTAA (Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Anaesthesia and Analgesia) in the future. Emma loves the new challenges that each day in the clinic brings, and that you never quite know what type of case is going to come through the door next!
Emma is passionate about tailoring veterinary care individually to each patient’s needs and ensuring they are comfortable while in the clinic, no matter how long their stay may be. Avian and exotic pets are an interest of Emma’s, and she looks forward to furthering her knowledge in this area as she develops her career.
In her spare time, Emma enjoys arts and crafts, attending Speedway, participating in dog club events and shows with her Newfoundland Hudson, and spending time with her friends and family. Overseas travel is also an interest of Emma’s. Her animal family includes Willow and Elmo, the gorgeous Mini Lop rabbits, and of course Hudson, the Newfoundland. In the past, Emma has owned budgies (Rio, Cooper, and Cheeko) and has loved the personality quirks of each bird that made them unique!
Emma is excited to launch her career with First Vets, and looks forward to meeting you and your animals!
Cert VN (Veterinary Nurse)
Meet Zoe, one of the awesome members of our veterinary support team! Zoe grew up in the Whanganui area and resettled here after working, travelling, and studying elsewhere in NZ and overseas. The scenic surroundings that this area provides are something that Zoe and her family very much enjoy. Zoe completed her veterinary nursing qualification in 2008, and has since then expanded her professional skills both through employment and voluntary work.
For Zoe, favourite parts of the job include interaction with clients and their animals, forming bonds with her patients through gentle animal handling, and the challenges of surgical nursing. Zoe loves to work as part of a team, and to contribute her skills and experience to benefit both her team members and clients.
Conservation, animals, music, the arts, and literature are some of the things Zoe is most passionate about. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the outdoors with her family, painting (recently this includes some amazing rocks!), visiting the theatre, and other pursuits related to the arts. Her animal family includes Onyx and Marble (both 8 year old cats, adopted at just 4 weeks old!), and Charlie the budgie.
Zoe loves seeing animals and their owners going home happy and knowing they have been provided with excellent care and service, and is excited to meet you and your pets!
Meet Christina, one of the friendly faces at our front desk. Christina has been with us on a casual capacity for a few months, and more recently took on permanent hours. Christina grew up in a small
suburb in Christchurch with her parents, older brother, a budgie named Thomas, and a beautiful polydactyl tortoiseshell cat named Paddles. From an early age, Christina knew she wanted to work
with animals. After finishing school, Christina pursued training as an international flight attendant, and five years later took on study to become a veterinary nurse, first gaining her certificate, and
then a diploma in veterinary nursing.
For Christina, there are many wonderful parts of being a veterinary nurse, but she finds being a voice for her patients that don’t have one particularly rewarding. Christina is passionate about animals of
all kinds, aviation, and furthering her knowledge whenever she can. In her spare time, Christina enjoys relaxing with a good book, hoola hooping, and making photo books for her family.
Christina’s precious 15 year old cat Socettes lives in the Marlborough Sounds with her parents, and her favourite thing to do is lay in front of the fire on cold days or go on long bush walks with
Working at First Vets has been extremely enjoyable for Christina, and she has loved getting to know you and your animals! She looks forward to seeing you again soon!
Meet the newest member of our Team, Emma.
You will be greeted by Emma’s friendly face at our front reception. Emma and her partner moved to Whanganui in May 2020 from the Kapiti Coast, where she is from.
Like all our team – Emma loves animals and has just adopted an adorable puppy fur baby from the SPCA called Fern, who is establishing herself as the official time waster in the house! Emma also has two adorable rabbits Peanut and Comet, who live in an outdoor rabbit mansion. Emma has enjoyed spending time walking and training Fern, and when she is not doing this, Emma enjoys going to the gym, exploring Whanganui, and experiencing all that our town has to offer. Having bought her first home recently, Emma and her partner, are now on the renovation path, experiencing the fun of painting and decorating, landscaping, and making changes to their new home.
Emma has worked in several customer service roles before joining First Vets and has always enjoyed meeting new people and making them feel comfortable. Emma is especially looking forward to meeting our customers, both two and four-legged and playing an important role in our team.
We welcome Emma to our Team 😊
Meet Diane! You’ll see Diane waiting to greet you at our front desk. She joined First Vets in June 2021 as our new reception and accounts team member. Diane comes from a farming and business background and moved to Whanganui 26 years ago. She’s been here ever since! Her favourite part of the role is ensuring the job is done right and making sure our clients are happy.
Diane is passionate about small businesses. She loves to see them succeed, fulfil their goals, and strive for milestones. Diane is also very passionate about her family, and her home life outside of work. In her spare time, Diane loves to do her gardening, go out walking, reading a good book, and exploring New Zealand in her motorhome.
While Diane does not currently have any pets, she had a beloved pet cat called Winky who made it to 20 years old. Diane can’t wait to meet you and your pets, here at First Vets.