When Weary Dunlop Retirement Village manager Zaigere Eales saw a job advertisement featuring an image from the colourful Ryman ‘Pioneers’ campaign, she knew the company was for her.
With nearly 25 years’ experience in the aged care and retirement sectors, including as a Director of Nursing and as an Executive Care Manager, Zaigere says the campaign’s representation of older people leading diverse and vibrant retirements was enough to make her cut an extended holiday short.
“I liked the philosophy,” she says.
“It’s really important to me at this stage in my life to go with a company that I am philosophically aligned to, and to know that prior to starting the job.”
Zaigere was born in Goroka, Papua New Guinea (PNG), where her father and uncle worked as teachers.
Her name is a tribal name meaning ‘little flower’.
Having spent the first 15 months of her life in PNG, and later living with her grandfather, Zaigere quickly developed an affinity for caring for people and spending time with older people.
“My mum and aunt delivered babies in PNG and my dad and uncle pulled teeth and did all sorts of stuff. They had medical books and looked up how to do things,” she says.
“And then after living with my grandfather as a child I’ve always had a connection with the elderly.”
It was this natural connection that pulled Zaigere away from work as a district nurse and propelled her to start working in aged care in 1996.
As well as dedicating much of her life to the sector, Zaigere and her husband Nigel have three children.
“We get outdoors a lot,” she says.
“We hike and go away on weekends and my youngest son loves rock climbing, so there is a bit of that.”
While Zaigere is more likely to be found sewing, knitting or painting than rock climbing, it is connecting with others, whether it be her family or residents, where she is most in her element.
“Residents at the village have told me how much they love living here, so that’s really good,” she says.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know everybody and having some social time with them as we head into the festive season.”