Bursaries grow our Māori mental health workforce

Media release

12 February 2021

Over 120 Māori students who have received bursaries for their mental health studies have been welcomed at two-day hui at Massey University in Auckland today.

‘We are committed to improving mental health and addiction outcomes in Aotearoa New Zealand. We want to make sure that Māori can be supported by Māori, so we need to make sure we build the Māori workforce and encourage working in mental health,’ said Toni Gutschlag, Acting Deputy Director-General, Mental Health and Addiction.

‘Māori are disproportionately affected by mental health and addiction issues in Aotearoa New Zealand, so we need to ensure Māori perspectives and experience are built into the mental health system – growing the Māori workforce is an important part of achieving that,’ said Ms Gutschlag.

Funding for the bursaries is available from the Te Rau Puawai programme at Massey University and means there will be 126 places available on the programme each year. An increase of 46 bursaries for this programme is part of the Budget 19 investment into improving mental health and addiction outcomes.

Te Rau Puawai is a successful Māori mental health workforce development programme run by Massey University over the last 20 years.

With an average pass rate of 95 per cent, the programme has achieved academic success for its students, but more importantly has had a far reaching impact on supporting tangata whaiora (people seeking wellness) across Aotearoa New Zealand.

‘The recipe for success of this programme is that it doesn’t just provide financial support. There is a team who also provide active student support, framed within a Māori context,’ said Ms Gutschlag.

Professor Te Kani Kingi, Chair of the Te Rau Puawai Board, shares the same view. ‘From the outside people might think the main reason for the programme’s success is the financial support, but over time we have realised that’s not the most important thing. It’s really the pastoral care that we are able to provide in a Māori way.’

The programme covers a wide variety of professionals from mental health nurses to clinical psychologists and social workers. Study can be undertaken via distance learning, meaning it offers flexible learning opportunities for both recent school leavers and those wishing to enter a new field later in their working life.

Te Rau Puawai’s combination of bursaries and academic support within a kaupapa Māori framework was established by Emeritus Professor Sir Mason Durie, to address the shortfall of Māori professionals in the mental health and addiction sector.

‘We acknowledge the work of Sir Mason; the success of the Te Rau Puawai programme in growing the Māori mental health and addiction workforce is a credit to his leadership,’ said Ms Gutschlag.

For more information about Te Rau Puawai visit the Massey University website.

Background information

Growing Māori and Pacific workforces is a priority for the Ministry of Health. In addition to the Te Rau Puawai bursaries, scholarships are also available for Pasifika students who pursue a career in mental health and addiction. There are also approximately 800 new places per year funded for Māori and Pasifika cultural competency training for the existing mental health and addiction workforce.

Students who receive the Te Rau Puawai bursary are able to enter into or continue their Massey University programmes which include undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral studies in the following areas: Psychology, Nursing, Rehabilitation, Social Work, Social Policy, Māori Health, Māori Studies, Health Science.

The bursaries provide a contribution to cover fees and travel costs, mentors, individual learning and personal support, assistance with course planning, an essay writing and study skills workshop, and access to Māori community and student networks.

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