Māori medical students are interning at Hawke's Bay District Health Board as part of a programme aimed at increasing Māori health workforce.

Seven interns from the Universities of Otago, Auckland and Waikato who study medicine, health science and psychology, are spending their summer in Hawke's Bay working with the region's health professionals on projects aimed at improving Māori health outcomes.

One project students Milly Bowen and Selwyn Te Paa are currently working on is analysing data of lung and breast cancer patients to see if there are hidden inequities between Māori and non-Māori patients in terms of treatment options and stage of presentation.

Students have also had the opportunity to interview patients from around Hawke's Bay.


"The Māori health team and kaumātua have been a breath of fresh air from our conventional medical training, so we have been extremely grateful for the opportunity to develop our research skills with equity at the forefront of our learning," Bowen said.

The internship is part of the new Tuakana Teina initiative led by the Māori health team at the DHB.

The internship programme was developed by Nurse Director of Māori Health Ngaira Harker and Māori Workforce Advisor Heneriata Paringatai to give Māori students work experience within their communities, whanau, hapū and iwi.

The initiative is part of the Hawke's Bay DHB dedicated Māori workforce programme Tūruki which is working towards increasing the Māori health workforce from 14 to 16 per cent.

This DHB programme is part of the nationwide Māori health workforce Kia Ora Hauora aim to grow the number of young Māori health professionals.

Four students identify with local iwi Ngāti Kahungunu.

"I was first interested in the internship because it meant that I had the opportunity to make even the slightest difference in Māori health and the way that all of my whānau in Māhia and Hawke's Bay are treated," Bowen said.

"It is exciting to have so many talented young Māori health professionals who applied for this internship and even better that we are able to provide this opportunity to support iwi development," Harker said.


The DHB hopes the internship will help attract students back to the area for future employment in a time where recruiting a younger health workforce is challenging.

"Providing experiences that support their cultural and clinical development through manaakitanga within the HBDHB for Māori students will hopefully influence their decision making when looking at prospective careers and help grow the regulated Māori Health workforce," Harker said.

There were nine applicants for the internship.