Growing a local workforce and preparing rangatahi and tauira for the future is the driving force behind Te Hiku Hauora’s summer internship for rangatahi in Te Tai Tokerau. 

Te Hiku Hauora is working with Te Rau Ora, who received funding from Te Aka Whai Ora, to provide paid work experience for rangatahi and enable opportunities for future pathways to further study in health.   

Their first cohort of seven local rangatahi, aged 15 to 18, recently completed its Te Kowhiringa programme where they got first hand practical experience with local health providers, working as kaimahi in pharmacy, dental, general practice, and the community.  

“This internship programme is a great example of how we can harness all the talent we have here in Muriwhenua and bring about change for communities,” says Pouwhakahaere Matua, Dr Maria Baker. 

“Rangatahi and whānau do not have easy access to opportunities in Muriwhenua and this is one way to introduce rangatahi and their whānau to the real world of hauora and the potential career pathways they could have as future health workers and leaders.” 

Maria says this is the first Hauora Rangatahi Internship programme for Te Hiku Hauora. 

“We’ve been able to build partner with community leaders to offer placements in services such as Te Mana Oranga, Whakawhiti Ora Pai, Kaitaia Hospital and Ngati Kahu Health & Social Services - all of which are Māori-led,” says Maria. 

“This demonstrates a range of hauora services and kaimahi who are committed to Māori workforce development and providing our students with insights into the life of health professionals.  

“Connecting rangatahi and hauora services in the rohe where they have whakapapa connections was a highlight, knowing these rangatahi were helping their own whanaunga.” 

Maria says the internships have opened students’ eyes to more possibilities. “Our long-term goal is to have a health workforce from Muriwhenua who know the people, understand the rohe, it’s whakapapa and are going to be committed to the rohe and be qualified to serve the needs of our communities.” 

Te Aka Whai Ora investment into Te Hiku Hauora aligns with the Health Workforce Plan announced by the Government, which outlines the current challenges facing New Zealand’s health workforce and the opportunities to address them now and in the future. 

Maiaka Hapori Deputy Chief Executive Public and Population Health, Selah Hart says the internship programme is an example of how Te Aka Whai Ora supports hauora Māori partners to provide pathways for rangatahi to learn and grow within their own communities.    

“This is about strengthening capability and developing a future health workforce that understands the needs of whānau and reflects the people our health system is serving each and every day. 

“A successful pipeline into health employment opportunities also has a return on investment by building on the productivity and economic ability of our communities.”