Oct. 15, 2018, 11:21 a.m.
It has been more than 10 years since Joel Pirini received a scholarship from Te Hiku Hauora towards his medical studies but he is still ‘very grateful’ for the support he received.
Dr Pirini now works as a doctor at Kaitaia Hospital and is the clinical director of Waharoa ki te Toi – a newly opened Kaitaia research centre.
He believes he would not be doing what he is doing today without the scholarship.
“My aim is … to pay back the support that I got from Te Hiku in years to come by working with our people and helping to improve their health status,” he says.
Te Hiku Hauora is now calling for applicants for its 2019 scholarships, which helps descendants of Te Hiku iwi to pursue a career in health.
Te Hiku Hauora board community representative, Peter-Lucas Jones, says the scholarships are about investing in the education of iwi members.
“When we consider the socio-economic background of many of our people, we are confronted with the reality that many of them do not have whanau support, the financial support or the opportunity to further their education.”
The Maori health provider is investing in health education, with the hope it will make a difference to health outcomes in the region, Mr Jones says.
“We hope to see more Maori doctors in our community; doctors that not only have a tribal affiliation but an understanding of the predominantly indigenous population in our region,” he says.
The funding is not limited to those who want to be doctors – it can be used towards tertiary studies in the health field, including dentistry, pharmacy and nursing.
Dr Pirini says he always wanted to study health but he didn’t have the grades in high school to go directly into medicine. The Te Hiku scholarship not only helped him financially, it gave him support to study medicine despite being older than the other students.
“I think from my own personal story, what I would encourage people is that it doesn’t matter what sort of direction you’ve gone in life, if you really want to pursue a career in health, it’s possible,” he says.
Applications for the scholarships close 16 November, and more information is available on Te Hiku Hauora’s website.