One of only two Te Apa Mareikura national scholarships, made available by the Ministry of Health, has been awarded to Ngāti Porou descendant Kathy Kupenga.
Kupenga is a mature student who is currently in her second year of a Bachelor of Nursing degree at Eastern Institute of Technology.
Surprised, she says, "It is humbling to be a recipient. I feel so honoured."
Kupenga has an impressive clinical background having already served as a medic in the New Zealand Army, a paramedic in the Wellington Free and St John Ambulance services, a Māori advisor in smoking cessation for The Quit Group in Wellington and a health promoter and asthma educator for Turanga Health in Gisborne.
She has a held a regional role in 2011 with the Ministry of Justice developing a service aimed at helping victims of sexual violence.
“For as long as I can remember, I have always been at the forefront, helping people and trying to make a difference,” she says.
Both scholarships are worth $10,000 and are chosen from 11 health categories. They were established under the Ministry’s Hauora Māori programme to recognise the recipients’ involvement in community health, as well as proven leadership, effective community networks, and academic excellence.
The awards presentation will be held in November in Wellington, at which it's expected her whānau from the East Coast will join her to celebrate.