60 rangatahi Māori get a kick start into health sector

By Regan Paranihi

Sixty young Māori high school students from across the country will take part in a three-day Rangatahi Health Symposium in Auckland that will allow them an opportunity to kick start a career in the health sector.

Tracey Cornell, Workforce Advisor for the Northland District Health Board says through this Symposium rangatahi will be able to experience first-hand what it takes to work in the health sector with the hope that the number of Māori working in health enhances.

“Māori are over-represented in our health system and under-represented as service providers in our communities. This symposium is a response to the need for greater diversity in the health sector so that it is more reflective and responsive to the needs of the communities we live in.”

Students will spend the day at Waitākere Hospital education centre where they will get to experience different aspects of health care in which will be followed by a full day at Massey University where they will engage with the biology, chemistry and psychology departments.

“In a few years’ time I hope that some of the rangatahi at this symposium will be graduating university with degrees and going to work in our hospitals and clinics where our people need them,” says Cornell.

Last year saw 76 Māori health professionals graduate from Otago University, which is the largest cohort to have ever graduated from the university. The cohort included 40 doctors, 13 physiotherapists, five pharmacists, seven dentists, five oral health specialists, five doctors of clinical dentistry, and a bachelor of pharmacy graduate.

“Outcomes like what we saw in Otago last year is due in part to programmes like Kia Ora Hauora, working in our schools and tertiary institutions and alongside our whānau and communities, opening the eyes of our rangatahi to the opportunities that exist for them and then giving them the type of support they need to enter a career in the health sector,” says Cornell.

This initiative is organised by nationwide Māori health workforce development, Kia Ora Hauora, and runs from the 16-18 April.