Joining this year’s intake of House Officers at Hawke’s Bay Hospital felt like coming home for Milly Bowen.
Milly, Rongomaiwahine (iwi), grew up on a farm on Te Mahia Peninsula and attended boarding school in Hawke’s Bay before heading down south to study medicine at the University of Otago.
But it was the whakawhanaungatanga (establishing relationships) gained from the Tuakana Teina Internship that truly made her new beginning feel like returning home.
Milly, was one of the inaugural Tuakana Teina interns in 2019 who spent the summer working within the Māori Health Team in Te Matau a Māui, Hawke’s Bay.
Te Aka Whai Ora Māori Workforce Advisor Heneriata Paringatai says the kaupapa behind the programme is to give Māori tertiary students with a keen interest in Hauora Māori, a clear career pathway.
“With the refreshed focus on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, we need to create more opportunities like this where Māori can see themselves in health once they finish their study," Heneriata says.
Each year, the interns are given research projects focused on improving equity for Māori.
“It gives them the opportunity to extend their studies and learn from experienced kaimahi, while they provide us with a fresh, youthful insight.
“The hunger in the rangatahi and applicants we receive is incredible. We need to support their resilience and growing them as leaders in health.”
The Tuakana Teina Internship also plays a vital part in the Māori Workforce Action Plan, to grow the number of Māori in the health workforce in the rohe, Heneriata says.
“Currently, Māori make up 18 per cent of the local health workforce at Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand in Te Matau a Māui and we’re looking to ramp that up to 19.1 per cent.”
Nineteen students have come through the programme in four years and in previous years kaumatua have supported some interns in reclaiming their whakapapa to Te Matau a Māui, Hawke’s Bay.
“We are reconnecting tangata whenua and cultivating a connection with the rohe which could influence their career choices in the future," Heneriata says.
Six of the alumni either work at Te Whatu Ora in Te Matau a Māui, or at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Te Taiwhenua o Te Whanganui-a-Orotū or Oranga Tamariki.
For Milly, it was a “no brainer” to return to Te Matau a Māui, Hawke’s Bay.
“I loved my time as an intern. I learnt so much about the barriers some of our population face, especially in Wairoa, trying to access health care. Ensuring equity of healthcare is at the forefront of my mind as I start out in my career.
“The internship also gave me the opportunity to learn from some of the best and I made some great connections which I now can reignite as I continue learning and working within the hospital.
“Seeing familiar faces at the powhiri made me feel like I was coming home. It’s so nice arriving at the start of the year, already knowing some of the people I will be working with.
“I would 100 per cent recommend it to other young Māori looking to build a career in health.”
Pictured Milly Bowen at her graduation.