Te Whatu Ora Southern and Māori mentorship program supports rangatahi in health careers
Te Whatu Ora Southern has warmly welcomed a collaboration with the Kia ora Hauora (KOH) Maori Mentorship Program, with a cohort of 17 high school students recently invited to experience several different departments at Wakari and Dunedin Public Hospital, gaining valuable insight of what a career in healthcare could be like.
Students aged 16 to 18 were greeted with a Whakatau at Wakari Hospital and greeted by several medical professionals from Te Whatu Ora Southern earlier this week. They had the opportunity to make a mihi and express the area of health they wanted to explore.
“It’s taken a long time, and we’re thrilled to finally have our students here,” said Nancy Todd, acting head of strategy and Maori health improvement at Te Whatu Ora. “It’s the little things we do in health that make all the difference, and I hope our students can experience this firsthand during their three-day visit.”
The KOH program is a national Maori health workforce development program established in 2009 to increase the total number of Maori working in the health and disability sector.
KOH coordinator Trudy Thomson says the program gives Maori an opportunity to see the health sector in action.
“Whatever stage of the decision-making process our rangatahi are in, we can help and support a better understanding of exciting healthcare professions,” says Trudy. “And I’m passionate about supporting Rangatahi Maori to realize their potential.”
Their three-day visit consisted of spending time and talking with staff from different service areas including pharmacy, oral health, mental health, physiology, physiotherapy, public health, pediatric outpatients , radiotherapy and audiology.
“Healthcare is one of the most dynamic and growing fields in the world,” says Trudy. “The rewards of working in this industry are endless, and we hope this visit will open their eyes to the possibilities.”
Holly Bezett, a student at Bayfield High, says she is grateful to have the opportunity to visit Te Whatu Ora Southern. “I have a passion for helping people and I love children,” says the 17-year-old. “I’m interested in pediatric nursing, radiation therapy and oncology. This visit will help me learn more about the healthcare sector and the great opportunities I could have.
Trudy says the facilitation of the program goes beyond the students. “KOH works with their whānau, school and community and together we encourage our Maori students to explore higher education.”
Matt Kiore, educator at Te Whatu Ora Pou Taki, says it’s a privilege to be able to help young Maori students.
“We want the tauira to know they are not alone – we are here to catch them if they fall, and we are honored to have this opportunity to help them make big life decisions.”
For more information on the Kia ora Hauora program: www.kiaorahauora.co.nz