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ManuAroha Walker (Ngāti Haua/Ngāti Koroki) - 2008

Winner

posted by Alastair McLean on 2012-04-04 14:40:01.498

ManuAroha Walker (nee Donaghy) was one of the winners of the inaugural Te Apa Māreikura Award in 2008. 

At the time ManuAroha was in her fourth year of dentistry.  She had a seven-year-old son Kaiawha, a four-year-old daughter Te Reremoana and was expecting her third child.

Her plans included graduating in 2009, and gaining experience before returning to the South Island to work.

ManuAroha has a passion to work for Māori and low-income people. ‘I come from a modest background and becoming a dentist allows me to provide foundations for my children and show them that hard work does pay off,’ she said.

After meeting the Wirepa, Delamere, Simpson and Katene whānau at the awards ceremony, ManuAroha said she felt massively honoured to carry the mana of people who did such a lot for Māori in health.

‘I also couldn’t do without the love and support of my whānau and the strength and encouragement they gave me throughout my studies.’

ManuAroha’s previous work background had been as a kohanga reo kaiawhina and at Te Wharekura o Arowhenua working with special needs children. She was first inspired towards a dental career while working with mentor Ann Fogarty as a Māori oral health promoter/ dental assistant at Te Wharekura o Arowhenua and the local kōhanga reo.

Her university career also saw ManuAroha help set up the local Māori Dental Students’ Association and serve as president of the New Zealand Māori Dental Students’ Association.

ManuAroha said the contribution of Te Apa Māreikura to her academic achievements is one for which she will be forever grateful. ‘I received the scholarship at a very busy time in my degree,’ she said. ‘Being presented with such an honourable award assisted me in finding the strength to push on and finish my degree.

‘Te Apa Māreikura greatly alleviated the pressure I had in my fourth and fifth years of dentistry. I was able to buy much-needed textbooks and a laptop so I didn’t need to leave the house as often. The greatest way the award influenced my studies, however, was by removing the need for me to work part-time to cover living expenses and the above costs. This allowed me to spend more time with my tamariki and my studies.’

ManuAroha graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery in December 2009 and was offered first choice of five locations to work in New South Wales, Australia.

‘I have since had another baby and am working full-time in the public health system servicing a range of patients from medically compromised, elderly to low income patients in a hospital and community-based clinics in Forster and Taree. I provide dental care from relief of pain to full comprehensive care, and am also beginning work in an aboriginal-based clinic in these towns. I want to gain as much experience here as I can and then return to Aotearoa with the knowledge and experience to be able to introduce and implement initiatives that will best serve our people.

‘Māori excel in whakawhanaungatanga and if we continue in supporting our people to pursue whatever they put their mind to, they can live the life they dreamed of, just as I am.’