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Thursday 8 September 2022 2:57pm

physio650The Tupu Kia Pua workshop series is about building a network for Pacific students in physiotherapy.

The University's School of Physiotherapy has launched a new initiative to connect Pacific physiotherapy alumni with current students.

Associate Dean (Pacific) of Physiotherapy and series organiser Charleen Silcock says the Tupu Kia Pua workshop series is about building a network for Pacific students in physiotherapy.

“This ensures that students are supported beyond graduation and when working within Pasifika communities,” she says. It is also designed to “inspire, encourage and equip our students with skills they will need in addition to their clinical training”.

The first workshop involved students and alumni sharing their journeys in physiotherapy, which included highlights, challenges and workforce insights.

Bachelor of Physiotherapy student Emily Fruean says it was “humbling and a privilege to be a part of the story-telling”.

“It was so valuable hearing from Pacific people who have reached such high-ranking roles in the physio world,” she says.

“This reflecting has also made me realise how far I've come. It dawned on me as we were sharing that I've come a long way. Sometimes you forget that and think you're not doing well enough.

“I guess this has given me the insight that everyone has a different journey.”


Emily also acknowledged the effort that leadership at the School of Physiotherapy have made to connect Pacific students.

“They created a space for us to be vulnerable. As more people shared their journeys, people started becoming more open.”

“It's quite a struggle coming into the Kiwi culture when you come from a collective sort of culture.

“It's hard to navigate, so I guess that's why it's important that we connect with each other.”

Otago alumnus and practising physiotherapist Eti Televave says supporting Pacific students in physiotherapy is crucial to help meet the demand for Pacific physiotherapists in New Zealand.

“We've got some work to do. To give an example, there are only two Pacific physiotherapists at Middlemore [Hospital], which is located in South Auckland, the heart of Pacific in New Zealand. We have Pacific physiotherapy patients in the thousands.”

He says in his years working as a physiotherapist, he's observed that Pacific patients tend to engage better with people who “speak their language, understand their value system, and understand what is going on back home”.

The series 'Tupu Kia Pua', meaning 'to grow and blossom', is a collaboration between the School of Physiotherapy, Va'a o Tautai - Centre for Pacific Health and the Pasifika Physiotherapy Association.

The series is sponsored by equity funding from the Pacific Development Office, who issued a call-out for initiatives supporting Pacific achievement last November.

Ms Silcock says she is hopeful this series will establish an ongoing relationship between Physiotherapy students and alumni, and nurture current students in their development and journeys to being future Pacific leaders in Physiotherapy.

“We also want to increase the visibility of Pacific leaders within the profession and provide links to support systems within the workforce for our physiotherapy graduates from Otago University.”

- Kōrero by Keilah Fox

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