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pohatu_lisa_186Lisa Pohatu (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Ngāi Tamanunhiri, Ngāi Tahu) has a strong interest in indigenous peoples’ health issues and her Master's in Public Health (MPH) thesis reflects this.

Her thesis, which was completed in the Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit, Iron Māori: A kaupapa Māori driven hauora initiative, investigated how a multisport event could create major health changes within Māori.

“Iron Māori is literally in my backyard. Being a participant before embarking on the research aspect meant I was able to experience first hand the positive health impacts Iron Māori has created,” she explains.

For Lisa her research area wasn’t the only fulfilling aspect of her study. She also found lots of opportunities to build character while making lifelong friends.

“Being surrounded by likeminded people; people passionate about the health and well being of all was a highlight,” Lisa adds.

Being surrounded by likeminded people; people passionate about the health and well being of all was a highlight

Lisa now works as a Population Health Advisor for the Hawke's Bay District Health Board with portfolios in Sexual Health and Injury Prevention. She says, “my studies have allowed me to think with a population lens, to apply a strength-based approach and to look at the opportunities to maximise better health outcomes.”

She would like in the future to be able to use her skills overseas, saying she would like to look into other indigenous people and their health issues.

But in the meantime, Lisa certainly credits her study as being instrumental in her career development to date. “My time at Otago is a major reason why I am where I am today. Key people and events that occurred during my time there has made up a lot of who I am today,” Lisa says.