Twelve new Māori nurses walked the stage last week to complete their graduation from the Toi Ohomai Kia Ora Hauora programme.

And nearly all of them will be taking up jobs in the Bay of Plenty.

The programme was designed to foster Māori students into health career pathways.

Of the 12 graduates, seven had been employed at Lakes District Health Board and four employed at Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

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Pou Manukura Kia Ora Hauora midland programme facilitator Lianne Kohere said the numbers of Kia Ora Hauora registered nursing graduates accepted on to the course had increased to 60 per cent for this year's intake.

The programme would help build an "army of Māori nurses" in Aotearoa, she said.

Kohere said the inequalities of Māori still remain high across all aspects of health, but the programme was playing a huge role in mediating this.

The programme offered support through scholarship information, national nursing hui-a-tau, mentoring, and study-to-mahi workshops.

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