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Saya Karauna

Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu

Bachelor of Health


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Growing up in Tauranga, the opportunity to study close to home and whānau but still branch out made Hamilton the perfect location for Saya Karauna (Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Kahungunu).  But it was helping address inequities in the New Zealand health system that was a biggest driver in choosing to study the Bachelor of Health at the University of Waikato.

“I chose this degree because Māori, like myself, are under-represented in health. Being both Māori and Pakeha, I have seen two sides to the health system in Aotearoa. I saw this degree as an opportunity to help create more equitable health outcomes within the health system in Aotearoa.

“I was drawn to the broad range of subjects within this degree and the preventive and holistic approaches to health. I really admired how the university incorporates Māori views and approaches within their papers and this has been heavily reflected in my health papers,” says Saya.

Although Saya wasn’t certain initially what she wanted to study, the broad subjects offered in the Bachelor of Health helped her to explore and pursue multiple interest areas in health.

“Learning the history behind the different inequities in the health system that Māori, like myself, have experienced has shifted my views and made me want to be a part of the change for our people. Having a smaller cohort than other qualifications has enabled me to build strong relationships with my peers and lecturers, who are also on a journey to create more equitable health outcomes. The subjects I have valued the most within this degree have been community health, health promotion, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, social policy and decolonising health papers.

“There is a shortage of Māori who pursue health careers, and through the knowledge I am learning within my studies, alongside my understanding of the integral role whānau have in the care and healing of a person; I will be able to make a difference first-hand in the health system for Māori. By studying health and gaining work experience in the health field, I am already advocating for Māori and Indigenous communities and will continue to do this in my future career,” says Saya.

When she finishes her studies, Saya would like to work with Māori health organisations that focus on equity in health outcomes for Māori.

“I was fortunate to gain a summer internship with Braemar charitable trust and their partnered trust of Raukura Hauora o Tainui, which has given me further experience in a health-focused position and enabled me to work in a health space that tailors towards the needs of Māori. Meeting with multiple health professionals, particularly in rural communities, has reinforced my intention to work with rural communities to generate more equitable health outcomes. The placement has given me an insight into both primary and secondary healthcare environments and opened my eyes to a health system I want to be a part of improving.”

To others considering studying at Waikato, Saya says it’s ok not to have it all figured out by the time you get here.

“Be flexible and open to learning a wide range of subjects - you may discover your passion lies within other areas or fields of study. Seek as many opportunities as possible - through doing this I have been able to work for the university in ambassadorial roles supporting other Tauira to come and study. I'd also suggest using the support systems in place at the university as there are many inside and outside of the classroom which have supported my studies," she said.

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