Witt nursing students awarded Sir Māui Pōmare scholarships

Three Taranaki students are kick-starting their nursing careers with scholarships that honour a pioneer in Māori health.

Three Witt students share this year’s Sir Māui Pōmare scholarships, which will be presented this weekend at Owae Marae.

All three recipients are Taranaki born, but whakapapa to tribes outside of the province.

Gracyn Meredeth (Ngai Tahu) was granted a full scholarship, while the judging panel couldn’t separate Jamie Rowe (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi) and Jenna Heu (Tainui) and decided to split the second scholarship award between them.

All three have followed a winding path before deciding their future was best invested in nursing.

Gracyn previously studied at Otago University and worked as a dental assistant, while both Jamie and Jenna started families.

Mum-of-two Jamie gained a Diploma in Travel and Tourism, but like Jenna, who had worked in a bank, was drawn into nursing after completing a Health and Wellbeing course at Witt last year.

The immediate target for the trio is to become registered nurses at the end of their three-year course.

The scholarships, in honour of a pioneer in Māori health, are available to nursing students at WITT who have Māori heritage.

The students, who started their studies in February, will be at Owae Marae, Waitara, for tomorrow’s annual Sir Māui Pōmare Day celebrations.

Māui Pōmare day (Te Ra o Māui Pōmare), a health-themed celebration in honour of Sir Māui Pōmare, is held annually in June, coinciding with the Māori New Year.

Māui Pōmare (Ngati Mutunga) was born in Urenui about 1875. He was a pioneer in seeking to improve Māori health and living conditions and was the first Māori doctor.

He was also the Member of Parliament for Western Māori from 1911 to 1930 and served as Health Minister. He died in Los Angeles in 1930 after contracting tuberculosis two years earlier.

Photo caption: Jenna Heu, Gracyn Meredith and Jamie Rowe will receive their scholarships at Owae Marae tomorrow.

Words by Roy Pilott