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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

6 mins ago

HIGH suicide statistics and huge mental health and addiction issues on the East Coast are part of a Gisborne tertiary student’s future career decision.

Now she has time in her life to finally be able to do something for herself, EIT Tairāwhiti student Tauaroha Wikotu has plans.

She returned here a couple of years ago from 12 years in Australia.  Life is now about following her passion.

Tauaroha has been training in her role at Hauora Tairāwhiti and will continue training to help with the suicide and mental health problem on the East Coast.

Last year she completed the NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing – levels three and four – a programme for people who want to or currently provide support in the health sector.

“Coming back has made me look deeper into my future. I had gained qualifications in Australia where I had worked in aged care but I needed to get certificates here.”

There was a personal reason her interest in mental health had been sparked while she was studying.

“A close relative needed some help with their mental health and I went through the process of trying to find some support. Everyone was so helpful and caring and I saw the passion behind their care.”

The level three course students were able to hear about different career paths directly from people working in various roles in the health sector. Some of these roles were from organisations as well as from grass-roots initiatives.

The speaker about mental health,EIT lecturer Claudia Maaka, inspired her to look down that path.

Realising how much help was needed in that area here in Gisborne and up the coast, as well as the shortage of workers, helped her further to decide.

She got work with Hauora Tairāwhiti as a healthcare assistant and worked across all wards, with the aim to focus more on mental health and addictions this year.

“I was in the casual pool to work in with my course but once I got my feet in there, I fully realised that was where I want to be.”

Having successfully completed the Level three and four certificates last year – Support Work and Advanced Support –  Tauaroha is undertaking the  NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing – Mental Health and Addictions – programme this year with EIT Tairāwhiti.

Full of passion and love, Tauaroha knows the challenges of working in this area of health but believes she has much to offer being a person who really cares.

“To do this you have to actually care and have plenty of love to give. I am really looking forward to this year’s learning and heading up the coast back home within the next couple of years to help in any way I can.”

Tauaroha says she is grateful for what she has been able to get out of the course last year and says it was helpful to guide her on a career path she is passionate about.

Health and Wellbeing lecturer Cherie Te Rore recognises the heart and skills that every student brings to the programme, as “experiences in their lives motivate them to want to give that support to others. The course is very popular and fills up quickly,” she says.

Both programmes each run for one semester – 17 weeks long. The level three Support Work programme covers the fundamentals of support work as well as personal inner health and wellbeing. Embedding literacy and numeracy skills development into the Level 3 programme is a priority for tertiary providers, and students have opportunity to improve speaking, reading, writing, listening and critical thinking proficiencies. Cherie finds creative ways to explore the different topics in the programme including project-based learning, arts-based exploration and digital media applications. 

To enrol for the level four Advanced Support programme, students need to have completed level three previously, be employed in the health sector and have endorsement from their employer.Both programmes are offered, each semester.

For more information about the Health and Wellbeing programmes, including Support Work, Advanced Support and Mental Health and Addictions, go to EIT Tairāwhiti main office in Palmerston Road or head to the EIT website