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$20,000 scholarship huge help for anatomy student

Wednesday 22 March 2023 9:29am

Lilli-Peach image
University of Otago second year anatomy student Lilli-Peach Simpson-Maru was thrilled to find out she had won the Rocket Lab Scholarship.

A special scholarship for people from the Mahia Peninsula is making an Otago student’s academic life a little easier.

Second year anatomy student Lilli-Peach Simpson-Maru, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine, won the $20,000 scholarship from Rocket Lab.

Space systems company Rocket Lab launches its electron rockets from the Mahia Peninsula, on the East Coast of the North Island, and offers scholarships to students that have iwi ties to Mahia.

Lilli-Peach arrived at Otago from Hamilton, but is originally from Mahia.

She started in First Year Health Sci last year, hoping to get into medicine, but that didn’t quite go to plan.

She “fell in love” with Hubs 191 paper – Human Biology systems – and decided studying anatomy was the “next best thing”.

Her plan is to finish her degree anatomy and if medicine is still her passion, to re-apply.

“I want to make [the medical industry] a safe space for Māori people,” she says.

She has never had a bad experience as a patient with health professionals herself but has heard stories from friends and family who had negative experiences.

“I want to make it a safe space for us to be so that people feel ok with going to the doctor.”

It was Lilli’s koro who suggested she should apply for the scholarship as a couple of Lilli’s cousins had won it in previous years.

“It’s really cool that they’re doing this for tangata whenua,” says Lilli.

Applying for the scholarship was a “stressful” process, but worth it and not many people apply as the criteria are very niche.

In addition to the funding, she also gets a mentor who she will meet at an event in Auckland around the end of June.

Lilli received the email announcing her win while she was in a lecture during summer school.

“I was trying to not flip out, it was very exciting.”

The money was going to be “insanely useful” as she is finically independent from her parents and “doing it all on myself, so it’s really awesome to have that support”.

She plans on putting it towards her fees.