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EIT graduate raises voice again health inequities

March 30, 2020

Cath Healey says that postgraduate study took her work at “Te Whare Mahana – The Warm House” to the next level.

Three and half years ago, Cath Healey started to work as counsellor at Te Rangihaeata Oranga, Gambling Recovery Service in Hastings. “It’s my favourite mahi,” the EIT graduate says.

“I’m both, counsellor and facilitator, and this holistic approach is very empowering. I can take my clients to the GP or other services, organise food parcels or medical treatment, go with them to court and follow them up. The bottom line is that our door is a door that never closes.” 

Cath says that gambling is a big issue in Hawke’s Bay. “Pokie machines are everywhere and they are highly addictive.” With 40 venues in Hawke’s Bay, people can’t go anywhere without being tempted, not to mention online gambling where people don’t even have to leave the house.

“Gambling affects every part of people’s life, finances, family, work and mental health. We get all sorts of challenging issues through this door,” Cath says, pointing to the main entrance.

Cath is of Ngāti Rakaipaaka and Ngāti Porou and Canadian descent. She has three children, 25, 18 and 16 years old. Before enrolling at EIT, Cath was working in a sewing factory. While unravelling her own life challenges, she decided to study and steer her life into a new direction.

In 2014, Cath completed her degree in counselling, and now she has graduated with a Master in Professional Practice (with distinction). “My studies changed everything for the better,” Cath concludes.

She says that her postgraduate qualification allowed her to sharpen what she is passionate about. “It made me reflect in depth about my mahi and myself while extending the knowledge and skills I need to work more professionally.”

“I’m a grassroots kind of person but the qualification brought my work to a different space. It made me think more politically.”

“I guess that my studies turned me into an academic activist, a voice and an advocate for Māori inequities. It’s important to know the historical context and the impacts that colonisation had and still has on our people. The trauma hasn’t ended.” Cath argues that legislation and the health system don’t seem to reflect Māori beliefs, values and practices.

However, working for a kaupapa Māori service provider enables Cath to integrate Māori practices with the western therapeutic approach. “I can take clients to the beach, karakia, reconnect with the land and create more than just a therapeutic relationship. It’s incredibly rewarding. I’m able to provide people with options to change their way of thinking. Probably I always go a little bit beyond of what’s expected but this is how I roll.”