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Whānau is everything for four Māori Masters graduates –

Four Māori nurses have graduated with Masters
degrees from Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), and
all agree that time is the biggest challenge, and a
supportive network means everything.

Māori nurses have graduated with Masters degrees from
Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), and all agree that
time is the biggest challenge, and a supportive network
means everything.

The four, Myra Pourau (Ngāti Raukawa,
Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāi Te Rangi), Ellyn Proffit (Ngāti
Porou), Janette Ngaheu (Ngāti Awa, Te Pahipoto, Ngāti
Pikiao), and Natalie Lewis (Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Porou,
Tainui) all value education in progressing their careers and
want to inspire others to follow an academic pathway to find

Myra Pourau and Ellyn Proffit graduated with a Master of Nursing and Janette Ngaheu and
Natalie Lewis graduated with a Master of Professional

Wintec acting chief executive David
Christiansen says Māori achievement is a focus at Wintec
and it’s important that learners are enabled with the
right tools and support to achieve success.

“Around 26
percent of Wintec students identify as Māori and we’re
really proud of that. What makes us even happier is the
levels of achievement our Māori students are

“Māori student success is crucial if we
are to develop a workforce that reflects the diversity and
the needs of our community, and reduce health inequities for
Māori. These four Masters graduates are great role models
in this respect, particularly for those considering a career
in nursing.

Christiansen says Wintec’s Centre for Health
and Social Practice has created flexible education pathways
to support nurses to successfully manage the challenges of
postgraduate study, full-time jobs and whānau commitments
to gain higher qualifications, and leadership

Ellyn Proffit, was part of the first class at
Wintec. She has nursed for 23 years at Waikato DHB, and is
currently a clinical nurse specialist supporting adolescents
and young adults with cancer and is part of the governance
group for the She says senior nurses are expected to advance
themselves and gain higher learning.

“I completed
a Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing and from there, a Master
of Nursing. A highlight for me has been the continuous
learning and stretching of myself within this role, both
personally and professionally, requiring me to push myself
out of my comfort zone to progress the service and respond
to the needs and wellbeing of the young people I am
privileged to work with.”

Myra Pourau, kaihautū
cancer hauora navigator at Bay of
Plenty DHB
, says working with those needing care and
helping to improve the health of Māori and their whānau
(wider family), is a highlight of the work she does.

have a great sense of achievement and relief at finally
finishing what I started seven years ago. When studying, my
priorities were my full-time community nurse role, my study,
my whānau and myself.

“I could not have achieved this
tohu (qualification) without the significant tautoko
(support) from my whānau, friends, managers and colleagues,
Health Workforce New Zealand and the awesome staff at

Her advice to potential students is to “be
clear about your career aspirations and focus on the studies
that will help you to achieve your goal”.

Gaining a
Master in Professional Practice is a step towards a PhD for
Natalie Lewis, who has held various senior roles over the
past 21 years since joining the second intake of the Tihei
Mauri Ora Māori Nursing at Wintec, she is currently
clinical nurse specialist Hauora ihub at Waikato DHB.

For those wanting to set
out on a study pathway, she says “go for it, we need more
Māori academics to lead the way for our people, to be role
models and to believe in ourselves.

“I left school at
age 14, had my daughter when I was 17, and couldn’t read,
write or do maths that well. I asked for help when training
to be a nurse, learnt how to do maths and read medical
terminology, and attended the learning skills centre to
learn how to write assignments. I worked my butt off to pass
my diploma in nursing; I failed and resat six months later.
With determination and whānau support you can do anything.
If I didn’t complete my Masters, I would regret not
furthering my studies.”

Janette Ngaheu now works for the
Midland Cancer Network in project and
change management alongside service planning and
improvement. Prior to this, she worked as a registered nurse
at Waikato District Health Board for 20 years, the last
three years as a Charge Nurse Manager. She confirms that
without the support of the people in her life, she would not
have been able to complete her masters and she is now
contemplating her next steps.

“I am really interested in
policy, especially policy that impacts Māori health and
welfare. I would like to look into the feasibility of
completing a PHD within this area and also in the reduction
of inequity for Māori. However, I really enjoy the aspect
of my job at the Midland Cancer Network, where I can improve
health outcomes.

“The highlight for me within my working
environments has always been the people. The people I have
cared for, the people I have met and the people that I have
worked with to create an environment of care and compassion
at a vulnerable time in a person’s life.”

graduated 12 Masters students in health and social practice
this year. Wintec graduation was held in March, when 1,200
graduates from the 2,000 eligible, celebrated their success
at one of five ceremonies in

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