A spell in hospital inspired Southlander Turoa Gallagher to study Health Sciences at Otago.
During his Foundation Year the University’s Tū Kahika programme helped him prepare for first year Health Sciences and a potential career in Māori health.
“We had some awesome tutorials laid on by the Tū Kahika programme and by the Māori Centre, who were also the people to see if you were feeling a little homesick,” says Turoa, who is the first person in his family to attend university.
He stayed at a residential college for his first year — “I’d definitely recommend that” — but is now flatting.
During his Health Sciences first year he was mentored by older Māori students – “they were great at giving you tips and telling you what to expect in exams.”
Turoa admits the year was tough, but he got through, and is now in his second year of a Bachelor of Dental Surgery.
He decided on Dentistry after getting the chance to help out as a dental assistant at a weekly Māori clinic.
“You definitely see if it is what you want to do, and I loved it. Now my study is going very well and we’re starting to see patients — it’s very exciting.”
Turoa’s enjoying Otago. “Student life is cool, coming here and meeting new and different people from all round the world. The University facilities are excellent, especially the library, although it took me a while to get to know my way round it.”
He’s also enjoying getting to know staff better than in his foundation years. “Now we see the same lecturers every week and we can start to build relationships. We get a lot of help and support.”
It’s early days for Turoa, but he can already recognise opportunities for Māori in Health Sciences.
“We would like to encourage Māori students to apply for Dentistry as more Māori dental graduates are needed. So come and study here because there’s a need for Māori dentists all over New Zealand, especially in the North Island.”