Health Science Academies pay off for local Pasifika students

high school student

Award-winning Health Science Academy students David Hansen (left) and Titus Toleafoa. 

Latest News 19 December 2018 | A Counties Manukau Health initiative aimed at getting more Pasikifa youth into health careers is delivering positive results.

The Health Science Academies programme is running in six high schools across Auckland, including Mangere East’s De La Salle College, where participating students have recently dominated their annual prize giving.

De La Salle College’s Health Science Academy Director and Head of the Science Department, Kane Raukura says the Health Science Academy (HSA) students’ success is testament to the support and extension they get through the CM Health-funded programme.

“Since the inception of the academy at De La Salle we have been able to really transform our science department. We are ecstatic about the opportunities that the HSA has provided to our young men,” he says.

The science department, which is hoping for high NCEA results this year, was recently a finalist in the 2018 Prime Minister’s Excellence Awards for Education in the category of Teaching and Learning.

Mr Raukura says all of the graduating Year 13 HSA students are going on to tertiary study, and most of these within the health field.

“They’re very passionate about getting involved and the whole purpose is to get Pacific young men to work for their community. We see it as providing a clear pathway for our young men,” he says.

Mr Raukura asks students to imagine their Grandma or Grandad were hospital and to consider the kind of culturally appropriate care they would wish for them as a way of stressing the importance of having more Pasifika people working in health.

CM Health’s Programme Manager Pacific Workforce Va Lutui says the initiative is designed to encourage and support Pacific students to choose science as a high school subject, providing resources to ensure their success. Most tertiary health qualifications require secondary level science, Ms Lutui explains. Also, the HSA is intended to expose Pasifika students to a number of health related careers that exist beyond doctor or nurse.

Miss Lutui says there are 25 HSA places each for students in Years, 11, 12 and 13 De La Salle students must apply with a one page letter and have full parental support, which is the key to their success in the programme.

Counties Manukau Health provides participating schools with funding each year for science equipment and extra support for students.

Tangaroa College, James Cook High School, Onehunga High School, Waitemata College and Auckland Girls Grammar also have a Pacific Health Science Academies.