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UCOL Nursing students win Māori Health scholarships

By UCOL on Wednesday, 29 June 2016

UCOL Nursing students/Māori Health scholarship recipients

UCOL students Heather Allen, Demilee Christensen and Lillie Wehi all have something in common – a passion for contributing to Māori health.

The three Palmerston North Bachelor of Nursing students recently received Hauora Māori Scholarships from the Ministry of Health for demonstrating commitment to Māori health and wellbeing studies, worth $1700 each.

Hauora Māori Scholarships provide financial assistance to students who are undertaking or completing a course (level seven or above) in health and disability studies that has been accredited by NZQA.

Heather, of Ngāti Tamaterā/Ngāti Porou descent, is working towards a career in Primary Health or Mental Health, and hopes to be able to work with Māori and focus on prevention. "Unfortunately Māori are on the worst end of the statistics when it comes to health," she says.

"I have discovered throughout this degree that culture plays such a major role in the way health care is delivered to Māori in the community and how important it is to really engage and work on building therapeutic relationships. I feel that it's part of my duty as a Māori mum, raising Māori babies, to work with Māori in the community as a health professional to increase health literacy, access to and engagement with the health system. Ultimately, I want to improve Māori health."

For Demilee (Ngāti Awa) the plan is to take her Nursing degree learnings home to Te Teko in the Bay of Plenty and work on the Marae, with an aim of building on the gains using Primary Health and Māori Health strategies. "It's so important to start off right from babies – I want to teach Whānau Ora and Hauora to my whanau and implement it right from the start," she says.

"For Māori, health and wellbeing is all about whānau and communities – it's more than just about individuals. As young health professionals we can continue to learn from Whānau, too."

Lillie (Ngāti Kahungunu) is focussed on the importance of ongoing education as a way of effectively contributing to Māori Health. "Having grown up with Te Kōhanga Reo schooling (Māori Language immersion), I've been brought up in the Māori culture so it means I'm able to use that knowledge in health settings," she says.

"On my Māori mental health placement for example I was able to use singing to instil rangimarie/peace in patients and lift their spirits. I'm going to keep learning as I go; I just finished a Certificate in Te Ara Reo Māori through Te Wānanga alongside my Nursing study. I want to keep my culture and language, and use it when appropriate to help others - through the therapeutic approach."

All three students are planning to use their scholarship funds to aid them with course related costs such as text books and possible placement travel costs.

The UCOL Bachelor of Nursing is a three year, full-time programme offered in Palmerston North, Whanganui and Wairarapa. Enrolments are open now for the programme starting July in Palmerston North and Whanganui.