Energy and empathy figure strongly in Aaron Hapuku's reasons for undertaking a University of Otago Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (DPH).
Having worked for Immigration New Zealand, the Ministry of Justice, Work and Income New Zealand, youth work and voluntary community roles, and enjoying active interests in Kapa Haka, Māori Performing Arts, Mau Taiaha, theatre and dance, Aaron saw a career in Public Health as a “natural fit”. In 2012 he became a Māori Health Promoter for Community & Public Health in his home city of Christchurch.
Professional and personal interests reflected
Aaron then took on the DPH course, valuing its papers in Public Health Policy and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, but other aspects particularly reflected his professional and personal interests.
“My main focus was on Hauora Māori - Māori Health - and how we can seek equity for whānau to enjoy the same level of health as everyone else in our nation, without experiencing barriers to accessing services, quality healthcare, and most importantly being able to take charge of our own lives.
“The Hauora Māori paper led me to reflect historically on the range of issues that our people face and the reasons they exist. I think it is essential knowledge for anyone wanting to work in the Māori community.”
Many reasons to choose Otago
Aaron says he chose Otago's DPH course because of the Canterbury District Health Board's close relationship with the University, the number of his colleagues who have studied at Otago's School of Medicine, and the encouragement of the course's Māori academic and support staff.
He admits it was a real challenge caring for a young family, studying for his DPH and working full-time.
“But, my studies have made me a more confident Health Promoter. They've allowed me to think more critically, and to articulate my ideas and point of view around Māori health in Waitaha/Canterbury.”