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School moves in 'leaps and bounds' to integrate Māori health and culture

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

School of Pharmacy staff outside Otakou Marae 418
Otago School of Pharmacy recently visited Ōtākou Marae as part of their professional development.

Last year professional practice fellow Lisa Kremer was appointed to the new role of Kaiārahi (Māori leader) within the school.  The former hospital and community pharmacist is building relationships with stakeholders outside of the School of Pharmacy to help develop the new curriculum with the addition of Hauora Māori (Māori health) into the Bachelor of Pharmacy curriculum.

Working closely with professional practice fellow Aynsley Peterson, Ms Kremer says this collaborative approach will ensure the new curriculum will provide the necessary foundation learning required by future pharmacists.

Lisa Kremer and Aynsley Peterson at Otakou Marae
Kaiārahi Lisa Kremer (left) and professional practice fellow Aynsley Peterson recently led a staff professional development day at Ōtākou Marae.

“The school has come along leaps and bounds in the past six months because of the relationships that we have established with our external stakeholders,” Ms Kremer says.“We are having discussions about what should we be teaching, how it should be taught and who should deliver it, all of these decisions have come by having an extensive consultation process and engagement with our stakeholders.”

While there have been aspects of Māori health and culture taught in the curriculum previously, the new curriculum will ensure a broader focus. It is essential that pharmacists have an understanding of Hauora Māori and the current health inequalities and inequities that exist for Māori, and then be able to provide culturally-appropriate care for them, Ms Kremer says.

Some of the learning opportunities the school is providing for all students this year include a day at a local marae and case-based workshops. Final-year students recently had a day-long workshop learning specifically about The Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi).

While some students may have had lessons about Te Tiriti o Waitangi in their secondary school education, Ms Kremer says the pharmacy school focus will ensure their experience at the school is coming from a health perspective. “What does Te Tiriti mean for a pharmacist?”

“At the same time we are also working with the staff to offer training as well – it’s really important for all of us to be growing and learning together.”

Ms Kremer has whakapapa to Ngāi Tahu and is a member of the Māori Pharmacists Association (Ngā Kaitiaki o te Puna Rongoā). For the past five years she has been providing academic and pastoral support for Māori students at the school, while working part-time as a hospital pharmacist.

Ms Peterson says she is excited to be working with Ms Kremer on the development of this part of the curriculum. “Ultimately we want to provide a course which helps to steer our students into their life-long learning pathway,” Ms Peterson says. “I really believe the partnerships we are making will be a great base for their learning and will help them focus their work in whichever community they work in.”

The pair is thankful for the support of many sectors including Otago University associate dean Māori, health sciences division, Joanne Baxter and her team at Kāhatu, Centre for Māori Health.

Lisa Kremer leading school of pharmacy staff onto otakou marae 418
Kāiarahi Lisa Kremer leads Otago School of Pharmacy staff onto Ōtākou Marae.

Article written by Liane Topham-Kindly for PharmacyToday, June 2016.

Photographs by Rewa Pene.