Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Pacific Health Science Academy inspires students to aim high 

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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

Encouraging talented Pacific Islands students into a career in health is the goal behind the Pacific Health Science Academy programme.

The programme is offered in schools with high Pacific student enrolments and with the focus on year 11 to year 13 students who are currently studying at least two science subjects. 

The initiative also provides additional tutorial support in sciences to ensure students achieve the required NCEA levels to continue into undergraduate courses at tertiary level. 

The programme has been running in the northern region since 2011 and Pauline Fuimaono Sanders, head of Pacific Workforce in the Pacific Health Group for Health NZ, says she hopes Pacific peoples will see this programme as a way to promote health as a viable career option. 

“Our parents and our families are a huge support for success and that will help students choose the right subjects going into year 11… in addition there are leadership development events and site visits to the hospitals and health care providers just so that students can really see and breathe the possibilities for them.”

Fuimaono adds,“what we also do is bring in our Pacific health professionals so our students can really see our podiatrists, our physiotherapists, our psychiatrists, our dieticians, nurses and doctors. As the saying goes if you can see it, you can be it.”

And working towards a potential career in health are students who are part of the academy at Mt Roskill Grammar in Auckland who are now in the fourth year of the programme. 

Year 11 students Adra Kaufusi and Allie Fa’aumu are enjoying the challenge of being part of the academy. Adra enjoys learning about physics, engineering and biology and hopes one day to join the workforce as a nurse. 

“Exciting. It’s difficult but I think having friends like the same background of Pacific and teachers that are very supportive it makes things very easy for us to like, learn.

“I think the teachers try their best to make the academy fun for us, make things exciting so it like feels like it’s not work but then it’s work at the same time.”

Allie says she likes to know the reason behind Science. 

“Science, like when I tell people I take science they’re like ‘are you a nerd or something?’ But actually it makes learning easy and fun. With helpful teachers and peers that can also understand, it actually makes learning interesting.”

Year 13 student Josefa Ratabuamataika is keen to follow in his family’s footsteps. 

His Mother is a registered nurse at Middlemore hospital while his sister is also in nursing. Josefa says it was a natural progression. 

“Through Mum’s side they’ve done mostly health. I wanted to contribute to the family tradition and also how people always talk about Pasifika health problems and how we need more doctors and healthcare workers.” 

Mt Roskill Grammar Pacific Health Science Academy Director Alisa Seth says she is in awe of all the students who have come through the programme and is excited to see what is ahead. 

“We’ve got a student in health science aiming to be a doctor, we’ve got medical imagery, we’ve got midwifery and something that wouldn’t of happened is, they may not have gotten into these careers had we not shown them that, that was even an option, so that’s just been awesome.” 

And Fuimaono says the results are encouraging. 

“For the 2023  NCA results our year 11 and year 13 achieved at 85% and our year 12 achieved at 92%,” she says.

“Now that’s significantly higher than the total students which averaged between 61 and 71% so we know this programme works, the way it’s delivered works.”



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