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New Graduate Mental Health Nursing (NESP)

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Te Whatu Ora Southern has provided a programme for new graduate nurses to work in the specialty of Mental Health since 1997. We offer a programme at post graduate level that is funded by Te Pou and accredited by the Nursing Council.

New Graduate Mental Health Programmes

Te Whatu Ora Southern has provided a programme for new graduate nurses to work in the specialty of Mental Health since 1997. We offer a programme at post graduate level that is funded by Te Pou and accredited by the Nursing Council.

The New Graduate Programme is designed specifically for graduates of comprehensive nursing programmes to take a beginning practitioner role and to develop specific knowledge and skills required in the specialty field of Mental Health Nursing. You will be enrolled at the University of Auckland in two Post graduate Nursing Papers. On successful completion of both papers you will be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences (Mental Health Nursing). You will also have a Level 2 portfolio which meets Nursing Council standards for competency.  

New Graduate nurses entering the programme are employed within mental health services in Southland and Otago with the aim to provide safe, supportive and stimulating environment to ease the transition from student nurse to registered nurse. If you live outside of these locations we are happy to assist you with relocation support ($2000 towards your move). 

Appointments will be subject to the passing of the State Final.

Placements within Te Whatu Ora Southern (Otago/Southland) will be identified as part of the National Recruitment Process.

2023 New Entry to Specialist Practice (NESP)

For the 2023 intake, we are anticipating at least 35 new graduate vacancies across the Mental Health Service.
To apply go to the ACE website

We have opportunities across the region in community and inpatient settings, including:


  • Mental Health for Older Person's (Ward 6C) 
  • Forensic Inpatient (Locked) (Ward 9A) 
  • Intensive Care (Locked) (Ward 9B)
  • Acute Inpatient (Ward 9C) 
  • Clinical Rehabilitation (Ward 10A) 
  • Specialist Addiction Services 
  • Emergency Psychiatric Services 
  • Community Day Programmes
  • Intellectual Disability 
  • Child & Youth Services 
  • Community Mental Health Team - Waitaki


  • Inpatient Mental Health Unit & Community Mental Health Team – Southland 
  • Community Mental Health Team - Gore
  • Community Mental Health Team - Balclutha
  • Community Mental Health Team - Queenstown

The NESP programme intake begins in January, however, your commencement date of employment will be negotiated between yourself and the Charge Nurse Manager. During this time, you will enrol with the University of Auckland an undertake a comprehensive range of Te Whatu Ora Southern orientation programmes. Placements within the Adult Mental Health Service/Specialist Mental Health Service (Otago/Southland) will occur as follows:

The New Graduate applies for a position within the Te Whatu Ora Southern Mental Health Services based in either Otago or Southland, this qualifies them to enter the NESP Programme.

Programme Outline

The programme we offer has four cornerstones which enhance the engagement of the New Graduate with the learning experience:

  1. Clinical practice
  2. Preceptorship
  3. Clinical supervision
  4. Theory

1. Clinical Practice

Provides an environment that supports and enables the new graduate to develop their skills as Registered Nurses.  The new graduates will be employed by Te Whatu Southern Ora into a permanent position in Otago or a one year contract in Southland.

2. Preceptorship

Preceptorship is an educational relationship, which involves orientation, teaching support and guidance from a registered nurse in your clinical setting.  The aim of the relationship is to assist the new graduate with the transition from student to registered nurse.  All preceptors attend a preceptor training workshop that is provided by Te Whatu Ora Southern.

3. Clinical Supervision

Clinical Supervision is another vital cornerstone of Mental Health Nursing practice.  The aim of this relationship is to enhance safe practice, to provide a supportive environment for the new graduate to explore, examine, clarify and reflect on their experiences.

Faugier (1994) describes clinical supervision as "activity of examining one's practice with a more experienced and skilled professional in a formal relationship".

4. Theory

The theory content is aimed at providing specific information to add to your existing knowledge base and to extend your base of clinical skills.  This includes a comprehensive orientation to Te Whatu Ora Southern Mental Health Service. Examples of content includes:

  • Mental Health and Physical Health Assessment
  • Recovery based Models of Care and Trauma Informed Care
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Development of Therapeutic Relationships
  • Addiction and Co-existing Problems
  • Talking Therapies
  • Legislation
  • Managing Risk
  • Stigma and Discrimination and Social Justice
  • Psychopharmacology

Entry Criteria

  • Newly Registered Nurse with an Annual Practising Certificate (APC)
  • Be a NZ citizen or hold a NZ permanent resident visa (there is a possibility for an exemption to this rule, contact us for more information)
  • Must have no restrictions of practice on the APC that would impact on their ability to participate in the programme
  • Must be able to work a minimum of 0.7 FTE (28 hours per week), can negotiate up to full time (40 hours per week)
  • The ability to study at Level 8 of the NZQA framework
  • Those RN’s wanting to extend their scope of practice into Mental Health, Addictions and Intellectual Disability should contact the Director of Nursing or the NESP Programme Coordinator

To apply go to the ACE website 

Contact Details

Fiona Armon
NESP Clinical Coordinator
Phone:  03 476 9366