EIT nursing student Kathy Kupenga has been awarded a prestigious Te Apa Mareikura scholarship, one of only two made nationwide by the Ministry of Health.
“I never expected it, but it is humbling to be a recipient,” Kathy says. “I feel so honoured.”
The student awards, each worth $10,000, are chosen from 11 health categories. Established under the ministry’s Hauora Māori programme, they recognise the recipients’ involvement in community health, proven leadership and effective community networks as well as academic excellence.
Kathy’s wide-ranging experiences have put her at the coal face with Māori. The second-year Bachelor of Nursing student has served as a medic in the New Zealand Army, a paramedic in the Wellington Free and St John Ambulance services, a Māori advisor in smoking cessation for The Quit Group in Wellington and a health promoter and asthma educator for Turanga Health in Gisborne.
In 2011, she took up a regional role with the Ministry of Justice, developing a specialist service aimed at minimising the impact of the judicial process on victims of sexual violence.
“For as long as I can remember,” she says, “I have always been at the forefront, helping people and trying to make a difference.”
In May, she won an exemplar competition at a national hui for Māori nursing students, drawing on her practicum experience working in mental health.
Kathy represents EIT as a student union delegate on the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and the national chair for Te Rῡnanga Tauira, the ‘Treaty’ arm to the National Student Unit. She also serves as secretary for Te Roopu Whaioranga, a Māori Bachelor of Nursing student-led support group.