Youth leader receives fellowship

By Sophie Ryan


A nurse committed to the health of young people in Northland has been awarded a fellowship worth $90,000.

Bernadette Hetaraka has worked tirelessly alongside young people to shape Whangarei Youth Space, an ongoing project that will give teens a safe place to spend time in town, as well as her work at Manaia PHO.

For nine years Ms Hetaraka has been a public health nurse, focusing on the wellbeing of young people.

The Vodafone Foundation Youth Health Leadership Fellowship grant will be put towards a sabbatical in Canada and the United States where she plans to attend the World Congress of the International Association for Adolescent Health.

Ms Hetaraka, who said she was born and bred in Whangarei, is hoping to examine models of youth governance that have been successful overseas and can be applied to Northland.

"This is about young people. They are the people who will lead us, and look after us. It's about giving them a respected voice," she said.

She said there has been work started to make young people feel empowered and in control of their wellbeing.

She said although the work she does in based in Whangarei, she is always thinking about wider Northland.

"Rural Northland has different needs to the centres. We have an obligation to serve all of Northland, not just Whangarei. We [Youth Space] may be based in Whangarei but the tentacles of what we do spread wider."

Ms Hetaraka will be blogging with updates of her studies during the year.

She said the opportunity to strengthen the youth health workforce in Whangarei has been exciting for her workmates.

- Northern Advocate

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