Māori leadership is standing out strongly in students emerging in the healthcare sector who are united in one goal, improving Māori healthcare outcomes.
Ōpōtiki’s Carlton Irving, a mature student, is one. Carlton is studying medicine at Otago University and is demonstrating strong leadership skills.
He has already been involved in numerous community initiatives including pop-up portable COVID clinics, training remote Ōpōtiki iwi how to stabilise patients until medical help arrives and establishing a charity, Ngā ringa ngaio whakaora (the skilled hands of healing), to support rural Māori into health careers.
Carlton began his journey as a paramedic in South Auckland, which inspired him to become a doctor after seeing the poor health outcomes of Māori and Pasifika whānau in the healthcare system he was treating daily.
Carlton is one of five aspiring health sector workers who have been awarded a scholarship by New Zealand Health Group to help complete their study.
New Zealand Health Group Executive Cultural Advisor Ranei Wineera-Parai says, “These annual scholarships are awarded to encourage and empower Māori leadership and support students to complete their study so they can give back to their communities and help improve Māori health.”
Group Chief Executive Josephine Gagan from New Zealand Health Group says they were very impressed by the high calibre of the 172 applications received.
“And these students are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s reassuring to know the future of the Māori health sector is in capable hands and will be led by an enthusiastic and committed group of individuals.”
Carlton is joined by scholarship recipient Aroha Hiraka from Whakatane, who is training to be a nurse. “When I graduate, I want to work within my Kawerau community to help improve the health and well-being of my whānau, hapū and iwi through prevention and education,” she says.
“I see a shortage of GP’s in rural healthcare settings and I believe nurse practitioners can help fill this gap. Long-term I hope to run a nurse practitioner-led clinic in Kawerau.”
Auckland’s Tiani Rawiri says the scholarship means the world to her. “I pride myself on my leadership skills and will be forever grateful for this opportunity. Being able to study and have this support for the study I am doing is such a benefit and a step in the right direction to being a competent health professional.”
Tiani is passionate about mental health especially forensic and Māori mental health. “After graduation I’m hoping to work in the mental health sector, in forensics, helping those who have been in prison or who are currently in prison to have a meaningful life.
“I would love to work with Māori and be a leader who in some way can take action and allow Māori to be heard. I want to have a holistic approach to my professional practice, and I believe working with Māori will enhance my knowledge and skills.”
Whangārei’s Coral Waipo is a nurse who works with Māori, and says, “This scholarship provides me with the opportunity to complete my Master of Nursing next year which will open pathways into further academic study and workforce development opportunities.
“Being awarded this scholarship acknowledges the support I have received in my journey from my partner, whānau and the many inspirational Māori leaders that have walked alongside me.”
She adds that being in leadership can be confronting and often an uncomfortable space to stand in at times. “I’ve leaned on excellent Māori nurse mentors to guide and awhi me. Postgraduate study at the University of Auckland has also supported me to challenge and disrupt the status quo so that I can develop the necessary skills, knowledge, and expertise to support the growth or our Māori health workforce and the development of our entire nursing workforce to be accountable and responsive to the needs of Māori.”
The $20,000 scholarships are awarded annually and began in 2020.