Te Rau Puawai – Enhance the Professionalism in Māori Mental Health Workforce

At the Hui Whakaoranga (Māori Health Planning workshop) in 1984, and again during the New Zealand Health Reforms in 1990, the shortage of qualified Māori employed within the Māori Mental Health Workforce was highlighted. Since this time, the importance of accelerating the professionalism of the Māori Mental Health Workforce has continued to become a focus for Māori Health nationally. To support this movement, Te Rau Puawai (the flourishing of one hundred) was established in 1999. Its aim was to recruit, retain and increase completion rates of Māori students, studying towards health related qualifications at Massey University, New Zealand. The greater vision was to support the Māori Mental Health arena by contributing qualified Māori to work within the sector. In this presentation, the governance, management and implementation structures of Te Rau Puawai will be explored showing a mixed method approach, involving Western approaches, but firmly based in tikanga Māori (Māori customs and traditions). In essence, this framework is a best practice model for mentoring Māori students studying towards health related degrees, particularly in the area of Māori Mental Health. The sense of community, relatedness and identity experienced by bursars as part of the Te Rau Puawai whānau should not be under-estimated. Belonging to an entity with an impressive record of achievement and success is something that instils pride and excitement in bursars. While the success of the programme is an important factor, the paramount goal is the health and well-being of Māori communities.