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Māori student support

Overview

Studying as either an undergraduate or postgraduate student, pursuing a career in Biomedical Sciences can open up many opportunities. Whether you want to be a researcher, a scientist, or work in the health sector, there are many people who can support you along the way.

A Māori Strategic Framework (MSF) Group is active in the School of Biomedical Sciences:

All departments are represented on the MSF Group. As well as providing support to our Māori student community, the MSF Group works to support Māori staff and to operationalise the MSF document and the goals of the Māori Strategic Frameworks Group.

Specific areas the group has focussed on recently include:

  • Increasing the amount of Māori content in School of Biomedical Sciences papers
  • Supporting staff to attend Te Toi Tauira mo te Matariki and other appropriate conferences
  • Developing a seminar programme to bring Māori scientists to speak at the School of Biomedical Sciences

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Undergraduate Māori student support

Each of our five departments has a kaiāwhina. We meet regularly to discuss the best ways to support our students who, while studying similar subjects, are spread across the campus and across different departments.

Most of our students are BSc or BBiomedSc students. We like to make sure that the special needs for each group are covered.

We are also active in the Division of Health Sciences, providing support for Health Sciences First Year and Foundation students.

Please contact your department kaiāwhina if you have any questions.

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Postgraduate Māori student support

Postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows meet every 4–6 weeks to discuss their research experience and support each other. If you would like more information about this group and when we meet, contact:

Rodney Tate
Email rodney.tate@otago.ac.nz

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Departmental kaiāwhina

Anatomy

Rebecca Bird
Tel +64 3 471 6277
Email rebecca.bird@otago.ac.nz

Brad Hurren
Tel +64 3 471 6277
Email brad.hurren@otago.ac.nz

Biochemistry

Associate Professor Craig Marshall
Tel +64 3 479 7570
Email craig.marshall@otago.ac.nz

Microbiology and Immunology

Megan Hall
Tel +64 3 479 7707
Email megan.hall@otago.ac.nz

Rachel Hannaway
Tel +64 3 479 7715
Email rachel.hannaway@otago.ac.nz

Pharmacology and Toxicology

Dr Sarah Baird
Tel +64 3 479 7261
Email s.baird@otago.ac.nz

Physiology

Mr Andrew Barlow
Tel +64 3 479 5773
Email andrew.barlow@otago.ac.nz

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Student profiles

Georgia Bell

Georgia was born in the heart of the King Country (Te Kuiti) but was raised in Whangamatā on her papa kāinga. She works for the Institute for Environmental Science (ESR) and volunteers for various kaupapa māori, including Te Toki Waka Hourua Voyaging Trust. She can be found on or in the moana when she is not in the office.

Georgia Bell (2019)1. Name / Mihi

Ko Whakamoehau te maunga
Ko Ōtahu te awa
Ko Ōtairi te whenua
Ko Ngāti Maniapoto me Hauraki ngā iwi
Ko Ngāti Pū me Ngāti Rora ngā hapū
Ko Georgia Moana Bell taku ingoa

2. Nō hea koe?

I whānau mai au i Te Kuiti, engari i tipu ake i Whangamatā i tōku tūrangawaewae, Ōtairi.

3. What did you study at the University of Otago?

Not knowing what I wanted to study, I went into first year health science with an interest in physiotherapy. I then discovered genetics, microbiology and immunology, and completed a BSc in Science which I supplemented with some Māori papers from Te Tumu. This lead to a PGDipSci working on a project in colorectal cancer, which I completed whilst running Roslyn Kemps research lab. I then decided to move into environmental science and return to Tangaroa; I completed my MSc looking at contamination in kaimoana.

4. Why did you come to this University?

To be honest, I went to Otago University so that I could gain some independence from my whānau (as much as I love them), I wouldn’t have been far enough away from them all if I stayed up north!

5. What have you enjoyed most about your studies and time at Otago?

I enjoyed the connection to big ideas and systems of knowledge. I grew quite an appetite to learn and connect with as much as I could.

6. What has been the most challenging / difficult aspect?

The most difficult aspect was realising how disconnected some of society is from decent and qualitative science and research.

7. What are you doing now, after finishing your degree at Otago? Do you have any further future plans?

I am currently managing a joint research project between The Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and ESR. We are developing a food safety framework for examining the safety of mahinga kai (traditional kai) for customary and recreational harvesting. This means that I get a good balance of sampling kai (not with my puku!), analysing data, and reporting the science back to local communities.

8. Is there anything that you would do differently now if you were a 1st year student again?

I would ask more questions! Ahakoa te whakamā, whiua ngā pātai!

9. What advice would you give to future Māori students?

Where ever you go, take your tūpuna and who YOU are with you, wear it proudly. Also, mahia te mahi!

10. What constitutes a good day?

Having a good kōrero about something new with one of my colleagues, and being reminded of the demand of our mahi within our communities.

11. One thing you could not live without?

Networking. We don’t function well working in isolation and for a good reason – many hands make light work!

12. Who or what inspires you and why?

Associate Professor Roslyn Kemp was my inspiration throughout university, and still is. I look up to the way she conducts her science, creates a whānau environment in academia, goes above and beyond with supporting her students (even if you’re not her own!), and provides endless opportunities for allowing for professional and personal growth.

13. Favourite way to chill out?

Jamming on the guitar at the beach and hanging out on our waka hourua, Haunui and Aotearoa.

14. Favourite location?

In Te Waipounamu my favorite location would be Karitāne! It is nestled just north of Ōtepoti and has some mad-as surf, beautiful sites, and is inhabited by the loveliest and welcoming community.

15. What meal do you cook the most?

Most of my meals contain potatoes. They’re suitable for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks… they’re so versatile!

16. Greatest achievement to date?

Realising that with a lot of hard mahi you CAN make anything possible – the ole cliché is true!

17. Do you have an aspiration for your iwi to achieve before 2025?

We have many challenges in our Hauraki rohe, but I personally would like to see growth and development in our environmental space. I believe our people need to return to the environment, whether it’s to harvest kai, paddle waka, or replant our whenua in indigenous species. The benefits of reconnecting our people back to the taiao are endless, getting outside keeps you active and healthy (i.e., vitamin D activates macrophages to help fight infections!), and this type of mahi increases sustainability and growth of resources.

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Kahurangi McLeay

Kahurangi was born and raised in Tauranga. She is always super busy working for The Ministry of Education in Whangārei, and looking after her two pups. Here is her story.

Kahurangi McLeay (2019)1. Name/Mihi

Ko Mauao me Taupiri ngā maunga
Ko Wairoa me Waikato ngā awa
Ko Takitimu me Tainui ngā waka
Ko Ngāti Ranginui me Ngāti Raukawa ngā iwi
Ko Ngāti Hangarau me Ngāti Kirihika ngā hapū
Ko Hangarau me Ruāpeka ngā marae
Ko Kahurangi McLeay ahau.

2. Nō hea koe?

Nō Tauranga Moana ahau

3. What did you study at the University of Otago? (Department, supervisor, research project etc.)

Initially, I wasn’t 100% on what I wanted to study, but knew something in health and/or science would be good, so undertook the first year health science program and this is where I came across the CELS191 paper which introduced me to the wonderful world of microbes. From semester 2 of that year I confirmed my study of a Bachelor of Science majoring in microbiology. I later picked up food science to supplement my degree which I enjoyed greatly.

4. Why did you come to this University?

I went to university to further my knowledge and to challenge myself. (Fun fact: I didn’t apply for entry to any other university, just Otago.)

5. What have you enjoyed most about your studies and time at Otago?

The staff, especially the staff designated to help Māori students like Ros Kemp. She pushed me, had me writing essay after essay in preparation for the exams and she believed in me. Also, as a Māori student, engaging with Te Rōpū Māori (Māori Students’ Association) and later with the Science division (Te Rōpū Pūtaiao) really helped me with my studies, but also making life-long friends.

6. What has been the most challenging/difficult aspect?

The change between how high-school exams are assessed and how you are assessed in university. This along with finding what study method worked for you.

7. What are you doing now, after finishing your degree at Otago? Do you have any further future plans?

I am currently a Property Officer with the Ministry of Education based out of Whangārei. I did some time working with asbestos analysis and in the future l am looking at doing my graduate diploma in teaching and teaching in a rural school. I would love to get back into some form of research however.

8. Is there anything that you would do differently now if you were a 1st year student again?

Don’t make out like you know what’s going on and ask the questions you need help with as soon as you can. Approach the lecturers at the end with questions, just never stop asking questions!

9. What advice would you give to future Māori students?

No matter your history, or your family’s history remember that you can do absolutely anything and everything you can dream of (and more!). Remember your roots, and use this to drive you to beat any stereotypes placed on you, and break the mold. The only limit is yourself.

10. What constitutes a good day?

Helping those in need, the sense of accomplishment is worth all the hard work.

11. One thing you could not live without?

Anyone in science will agree with me…COFFEE

12. Who or what inspires you and why?

Without a doubt in my mind, I would NOT be who I am or where I am today without the guidance and support of Associate Professor Roslyn Kemp. She believed in me when no one did (not even myself), pushed me to be my best and is just an awesome human being in everything she does. Even how she engages you from the moment you reach out is inspirational in itself, she is the epitome of Mana Wāhine in science. She is my daily inspiration.

13. Favourite way to chill out?

Reading a good Stephen King novel or knitting.

14. Favourite location?

The east coast of the North island. Ngāti Porou country. My partner and I regularly go there to unwind and gather kaimoana together.

15. What meal do you cook the most?

Roast Mutton with roasted veges and homemade gravy.

16. Greatest achievement to date?

Believing in myself! Second to completing my BSc in 2016!

17. Do you have an aspiration for your iwi to achieve before 2025?

There are many, but first and foremost I would love to see more of a significant kaitiakitanga with our waterways. Tauranga literally translates to 'safe anchorage', so I would love for all aspects of our land to be safe. Safe to swim in, eat from, and survive off of. To pursue environmental care on a greater level with monitoring all aspects of Tauranga Moana. Also, to instill a sense of pride in the rangatahi that they are from such an awesome area.

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