For Māori and Pasifika students, pre-clinical pathways go beyond the fundamentals of chemistry and biology. The demoralising statistics and impassioned speeches from our lecturers about the “poor state of health” in our Māori and Pasifika populations are stark and overwhelming, especially for Māori and Pasifika tauira. These disparities are a looming presence for many of the MAPAS students, and are often a driving force through the brutal years of training and study.
We place excessive responsibility on the shoulders of Māori and Pasifika students. There is a tendency to rely on these tauira (students) to “fix” the system while simultaneously wanting to deny them the opportunity to enter the workforce. But we are over having these debates, and being excluded or pushed to the outside of these conversations.
Starting Semester Two, and the run up to many overwhelming steps in the process of applying for professional pathways, Taumata Rau asked Anthony (Bachelor of Psychology), Claudia (Certificate of Health Science), Johelonn-Hana (Certificate of Health Science) and Pauline (Bachelor of Biomedical Science) about their experiences so far.
What do you think is important about entrance pathways for Māori and Pasifika students?
Anthony: Meeting people from all over Aotearoa, with different backgrounds and stories helps to motivate you into a career in the healthcare system. If you’re coming into any degree, it can be challenging at the best of times, sometimes it can feel like you can forget why you’re there.
Claudia: [MAPAs] enables students to carry their culture and backgrounds through their journeys into a healthcare profession. We will always have that foundational support and that helps us to remember where we come from. Keeping us connected to our “whys”.
Johelonn-Hana: I think it helps us feel worthy and wanted in the sense that we are able to come to university and succeed just as others do.
Pauline: I believe that having an entrance programme designed for Māori and Pasifika students is important, especially given how different the transition from high school to university is. It can be a big step for some people, so having a programme that supports them academically and in other ways is extremely beneficial. I also believe that representation is important, particularly within the Māori and Pasifika communities, and that having this entrance programme is a great way to increase the number of future health professionals that are needed. I believe there is a real lack of representation at the moment, so MAPAS is a great way to meet other students who share similar passions/goals. Meeting other people who look like me and have similar career paths that they want to pursue has been a really positive aspect of MAPAS for me this year.
How does MAPAS support you in your learning?
Anthony: When we had discussions that related to our history, there were a lot of emotions shared through the class. Sitting as a tauiwi student, you don’t have that connection and it’s something you learn to get a good grade. But, when you’re learning about your own history, it definitely evokes emotion.
Claudia: I think it betters the chances of there being representation in the healthcare system, especially in New Zealand. I see it when Pasifika and Māori whānau access services, it can be more comfortable. Specifically when there is a language barrier, and I see that with my grandparents.
Johelonn-Hana: MAPAS provides an alternative pathway for us Māori and Pasifika students to help us minimise the gap between secondary and tertiary level education. I think this helps many of us adjust to life at university or even in a big city in general. MAPAS provides us with the most support possible, whether it be the small reminders that we get or even the little check-ins that we have with our kaiako.
Pauline: Academically and pastorally, I feel supported by MAPAS. MAPAS provides academic tutorials, workshops and one-on-one sessions. In terms of pastoral support, they provide a space where I can go whenever I want, as well as time to talk to them about any problems or issues I may be experiencing. MAPAS provides an environment in which I can feel more comfortable and relate with others.
Have you been exposed to unwanted conversations around the entrance programmes?
Anthony: Usually when those conversations were brought up, the argument is that people would be looking into their ancestry when it came to applying for university scholarships just to get themselves over the line. That made me feel quite uncomfortable. People are ruthless. Sometimes I have to let them have their conversation, and remove myself because it’s just easier. It’s a tricky thing, because you can stick up for yourself and your mana, then get shit on and still get hurt.
Claudia: Oh, I do hear some people talk about it, but I don’t know why. It’s just about representation, I don’t know why people don’t want that.