A specialist general practitioner who has spent nearly her entire career serving Māori health has been recognised with one of the highest honours a GP can receive.
Hawkes Bay GP Dr Kiriana Bird, Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Porou, was awarded Distinguished Fellowship of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.
Dr Bird has worked at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga for more than a decade as a GP and then as medical director.
"I started working here in 2009 after a couple of years working for the DHB at the hospital."
She grew up in Wainuiomata before moving to Hawke's Bay for boarding school.
She got a degree in science in Wellington and then trained in Auckland for five years to get a medical degree.
She spent one year at Auckland Hospital before returning to Hawke's Bay and spending the rest of her medical career in the region since then.
"My focus has always been on Māori health so I was always going to manoeuvre myself to the Māori health provider wherever I was," Bird said.
Dr David Tipene Leach, a renowned doctor and expert in Māori health, was working at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga at the time and Bird said she "came in under his wing".
She said what she enjoyed most was seeing people grow and do well.
"Whether it is our whānau [patients] that have stopped smoking or have got a job," she said
"Whether it is my colleagues, when I moved into leadership roles I started to help support them by mentoring and things like that, which is part of my role for the college.
"Seeing staff grow from where they were to where they could get to and further, and them knowing that as well, their potential, is very satisfying."
She said she also places a lot of importance in self-determination, which has been expressed through her mahi to upskill nurses and young GPs.
She said she wasn't trying to get a Distinguished Fellowship with her work, but she hoped that the public recognition would inspire young Māori.
"For me to put myself out there allows another young Māori in Camberley or Flaxmere to see another Māori face in the news. That's positive, that can do things despite adversity."
She said she felt at home working with Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga.
"I know from working at other places that for me this is the place, this is the kaupapa Māori place, and I just feel so at home here."
She recognised her whānau - her partner and two children.
College President Dr Samantha Murton said Dr Bird has been able to build strong, trusted relationships with the patients, the community and the medical workforce in Hawke's Bay, having spent her whole career there.
"This trust and whanaungatanga she has nurtured over the years can only have positive impacts on the health outcomes of those she serves," Murton said.
Dr Bird has held multiple roles within Te Akoranga a Māui, RNZCGPs specialist Māori representative group.
She is currently the lead medical educator for first-year GP registrars in Hawke's Bay and is also involved with the training of second and third-year Māori GP registrars.
Distinguished Fellowship is awarded to GPs who have demonstrated sustained contributions to general practice, medicine, or the health and wellbeing of the community.
This year, five GPs and one rural hospital doctor received this award at GP22: the Conference for General Practice.