Record cohort of Maori health graduands

Maori Health Workforce Development Unit co-director Zoe Bristowe. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Maori Health Workforce Development Unit co-director Zoe Bristowe. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A 12-year partnership between the Ministry of Health and Otago university’s Maori Health Workforce Development Unit has yielded the university's largest number of Maori health professionals, who are set to graduate this year.

While students are awaiting their final exam results, it is expected the 2021 cohort of Maori health science graduates will climb to more than 100 by the end of the academic year.

Spearheading this growth is a medical graduand cohort of more than 60 - the largest number of Maori doctors to graduate in any one year.

Maori Health Workforce Development Unit co-director Zoe Bristowe said the 2021 class was the latest in "a long crop of fruits" borne from a 12-year partnership between the Ministry of Health and the unit.

She said there had been a significant rise in the number of students that had flourished as a result.

"The partnership has supported us to drive a strategy enabling the university to reach this number of graduates across the eight undergraduate health professional programmes.

"It is incredibly significant.

"We have outstanding students across all the professions who are committed to making a difference to Maori health in New Zealand, and they are much needed.

"Increasing the diversity of the health workforce benefits all New Zealanders, including those with the greatest health needs."

Cohort member Dr Kenny Hau was pleased to be part of the group because such a significant number of fellow Maori doctors would make a meaningful difference in practices around the country.

"Being a part of this cohort means we’ve got some people alongside us who share some of the same struggles, appreciate each other’s backgrounds and therefore appreciate the backgrounds that some of our patients come from.

"We know the state of Maori health is pretty average compared to the rest of New Zealand, and that was a big motivator of mine.

"That stuff keeps you going, especially when you hear that they want you to come back and help in the community."

Because there would be no graduation or Maori pre-graduation ceremonies taking place due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, the 33-year-old said he was now preparing to return to Taranaki to work as a doctor.

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