Lorraine Brooking (Ngāti Porou, Ngāriki ki Mangatū, Te Aitanga-A-Mahaki, Ngāi Tuhoe, Ngāti Pikiao) – Medicine (2001, 2002, 2003)
posted by Alastair McLean on 4 April 2012
Whānau comes first. That’s according to triple John McLeod Scholarship recipient Lorraine Brooking.
It’s a maxim she learned from whānau mentors – influential Māori doctor, the late Paratene Ngata, and his wife Ngaroma.
Over the years, it’s helped modify her thinking and her career choices.
‘It all starts at home – that is where the passion is first,’ Lorraine said.
‘When I first started at university, the mantra was all about the mahi and our people. Even when I started Medical School it was about the mahi and our people. When Dr Pat (Paratene Ngata) became sick he counselled me further, teaching me a profound lesson. He helped me learn that whānau comes first, then friends, then networks.’
Lorraine already had a Bachelors Science and Masters of Science, and was in her third year studying medicine at Otago University when she was first awarded a John McLeod Scholarship.
‘I was shocked that what I had done in the past and what I wanted to do in the future had received such recognition,’ she said.
‘It was very humbling and an enormous honour receiving this award, because John McLeod was an amazing Māori medical doctor and researcher with national and international accolades.’
Lorraine was chosen for the John McLeod Scholarship two more times in the following years.
She said when she started studying medicine, she wanted to pursue general practice. She soon discovered, however, that she enjoyed other disciplines too.
‘I found comfort in doing pathology, I loved the intellectual challenge of medicine, the family interaction with paediatrics was fulfilling, and enjoyed the discipline and service I got from surgery,’ she said.
So she sought counsel from her uncle and aunty and in the end, set her sights on general practice and her own research.
‘Your journey does change as you go along, especially in medicine,’ Lorraine said.
‘General practice was always the place I thought I would end up, so the journey now is about accumulating essential skills, so that you are useful to our people.
‘As Māori, you never do things alone. I have had amazing support by many individuals, whom I consider to be part of my whānau. I will always be grateful for their awhi. People help you on your journey and in turn, you do the same, reciprocity – awhi them – that is whanaungatanga.’
She achieved a Health Research Council (HRC) Māori Health Research PhD scholarship and further HRC project funding for diabetes research. Lorraine was the principal investigator for He iti noa, na te aroha – Dietary Diabetes Prevention Study for Māori.
In May 2011, she became an Otago University Doctor of Philosophy.
Lorraine intends to focus on her clinical and research interests in coming years.
After working as a general practitioner (GP) in Gisborne with a special interest in diabetes management and care, Lorraine decided she needed more trauma experience, before heading back up the East Coast one day to follow the path laid by her uncle, Paratene Ngata.
To this end, in March this year she and her husband took their two daughters to Australia for a few years. Lorraine and her husband will both work as GPs in various locations. She will also continue her post-doctoral fellow work.
While excited about the challenges ahead, she continues to keep her eyes firmly set on her goals.
‘I’d like to work with our whanau and support our Māori student doctors as Dr Pat and Aunty Ngaroma did,’ she said.
‘He humbly supported students’ acquisition of core clinical skills and knowledge. He showed by example how we as clinicians should keep our feet on the ground. She provided us with an open home full of love, support, and care needed to be successful throughout the years of training and work.’