Otago students awarded Māori Scholarships of $4000


Otago students awarded Māori Scholarships of $4000

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Otago Maori Scholarship winners 2022
University of Otago School of Pharmacy second-year students Anika Moana Kite Perenara (centre left) and Erana Ikimau have won the 2022 Māori Scholarships

Future pharmacists Erana Ikimau and Anika Moana Kite Perenara are the 2022 recipients of the University of Otago School of Pharmacy’s Māori Scholarships.

The Māori Scholarships are worth $4000 each and available to Māori students enrolled in the second year of the Bachelor of Pharmacy programme.

Erana (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Te Orewai) and Anika (Te Arawa) won the scholarships based on their essays on what it would mean to be a Māori pharmacist – what they aimed to achieve and intended to deliver to communities.

“This lack of representation has created a disconnect between cultures within this profession, and the lack of a sufficient understanding is problematic”

A personal journey 

For Erana, the decision to become a health professional has a very personal origin.

“Growing up, my mum was very sick and went to see almost every health professional you could think of. She had a lot of unacceptable experiences that were heart-breaking for me to hear about," she says in a media release from Otago university.

“I understand how poor Māori health is here in New Zealand and personally I believe it is because health professionals don’t understand aspects of Māori health and Māori do not feel comfortable seeking help from professionals. By becoming a pharmacist, I have high hopes that I will be able to change this. I am driven and believe that having more Māori in the healthcare sector is a major start to improving Māori health in New Zealand.”

One of the main reasons Erana chose to become a pharmacist was the under-representation of Māori in the profession, with about 2 per cent of practising pharmacists identifying as Māori according to the 2020 Pharmacy Council workforce report.

Once qualified, she also plans to engage with school students in lower socio-economic areas to share her experiences and inspire Māori and Pacific children into higher education.

Valuing education 

“My parents always taught me to value education because they did not get the same opportunities that I have. My dad grew up in Niue while my mum grew up in a very big family and could not afford to have a higher education. Knowing this I have always tried my hardest in school and have always wanted to make the most of the education I have by helping to improve the recognition of Māori and Pacific people.”

She came to study in Dunedin from South Auckland and, while she felt a bit overwhelmed at first, she has become more confident as her studies have progressed.

Improving outcomes for Māori

Anika always aspired to a career in healthcare and has a strong focus on improving health outcomes for Māori. She intends to continue postgraduate study in pharmacy before pursuing a career as a prescribing pharmacist.

She hopes to be part of solving the lack of representation she sees in the pharmacy profession, particularly pertaining to Māori.

“This lack of representation has created a disconnect between cultures within this profession, and the lack of a sufficient understanding is problematic, especially when translated into direct patient-pharmacist interactions,” Anika says in a media release.

She hopes she can give back to the Māori community by providing more personable and relatable services for Māori.

“I believe it is imperative that a patient’s cultural background and beliefs are not only acknowledged but readily incorporated into the treatment and the services provided to them.”

She also hopes to contribute to broader change regarding Māori relationships with the pharmaceutical environment and ultimately to help diminish the inequalities that exist in the healthcare system.

From Matatā to Dunedin 

Anika’s family are from Matatā, Bay of Plenty, moving to Dunedin where she grew up. Before enrolling at Otago she attended Otago Girls High School. Anika is also very involved in music, being an accomplished classical pianist and singer and has played the guitar from an early age.

“I am grateful to say that I have many inspirational figures in my life who encourage me to strive and offer endless support in which ever journey I choose to take. My parents have always provided a safe and supportive environment for me to make my own decisions and they invest so much of their own time into helping me achieve my goals.

“My Pop is someone who I probably look up to the most. He is an extremely knowledgeable and skillful man who would never skip the opportunity to learn something new. His patience and determination towards problem solving is very admirable. He strives to learn new things to help others, which is one of the many traits that I inspire to possess,” says Anika.

Scholarships highlight tauira

Otago pharmacy school associate dean Māori Leanne Te Karu (Ngāti Rangi and Muaūpoko) says the scholarships are a real factor for recruitment when considering the inequity of Māori health outcomes and the role pharmacists can play in contributing to equitable and culturally safe medicines optimisation.

“These scholarships are also an opportunity to highlight the tauira [students] as they commence their journeys to becoming pharmacists. I am so proud of both recipients,” Ms Te Karu says.