A new study pathway that aims to help address poor health outcomes for Māori in the Bay of Plenty has been introduced at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
In June, the polytech introduced the Diploma in Health Science, which is the academic equivalent of completing year one of a Bachelor of Health Science degree.
The region is known to have some of the country's worst Māori health statistics and people wanting to study in the profession have had to move out of the central North Island.
Toi Ohomai programme manager of health Maria Ngawati said the new qualification removed a huge barrier for students by allowing them to stay in the region to study.
"To achieve better health outcomes for Māori, the Māori health workforce in the region needs to be locally grown," Ngawati said.
"These initiatives seek to address our dire Māori health outcomes, because as the research shows, if your workforce reflects your population – the outcomes are more positive overall."
To support the diploma Toi Ohomai had also developed two courses through the Secondary Tertiary Programme; Tikanga Hauora aimed at Year 12 students and the Oranga Tangata for those in Year 13.
Currently, 28 Māori students across Year 12 and Year 13 were engaged in the programmes with many expected to begin the diploma next year.
The polytech was working with Kia Ora Hauora to host the inaugural Hauora Kura Pathway event set to take place in Rotorua next week.
Kia Ora Hauora was a national Māori workforce development programme which aimed to increase the number of Māori working in the New Zealand health sector.
Kia Ora Hauora Midland Programme Facilitator Lianne Kohere said the number of Māori working in the health sector needed to increase significantly to meet the needs of the nation's rapidly changing population and demographics.