Wharekura students become qualified vaccinators

By Mare Haimona-Riki

A pair of kura kaupapa students, Breeze Harema-Watts (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hāmoa) and Te Amokura Hepi (Te Arawa, Tūwharetoa), are amongst the youngest vaccinators in the motu, after recently receiving their qualifications at just 17-years old.

Hepi says the transition to being vaccinators was seamless because they had already been working at centres since August this year.

“It was easy just to know what to do,” Hepi says. “Our first one was our mums so it didn’t really matter but I was nervous for my first three. But we have a flow now, and we are confident as.”

Anti-vaxxers and people with phobias are some of the main challenges that Harema-Watts says they have faced so far throughout the last five months. “But we have a good team around us and they support us with everything.”

Te Amokura Hepi (left) and Breeze Harema-Watts.  

The year-13 students have been balancing their final year of school with their mahi at vaccination centres while juggling a part-time job as well - not an easy feat but they are making it work, with the help of their teachers at kura.

“I’ve been getting heaps of emails from my kaiako to finish my work on time but kura has been really understanding," says Hepi. "They’ve given me heaps of extensions, and even my boss at work says I need to get my homework done before I go to work.” 

Hepi and Harema-Watts are also part of a group of rangatahi that will be leading a vaccination event next Saturday called 'Youngatira' where there will be spot prizes, music, coffee and vouchers to be won on the day.