Mahanawai Daniela is on track to become the first medical professional in her family but is already inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.
The 21-year-old is in her second year of the Bachelor of Nursing at Toi Ohomai and is one of the recipients of the inaugural Whakapumau Pae Tawhiti - Retention Scholarships.
Mahanawai is of Cook Island and Māori descent and hopes to inspire others to get into nursing, so they can help those in their communities.
“My mum is in social work, but we don’t have any doctors or nurses in our family. My cousins see me working towards my degree and they now want to be nurses.”
Mahanawai, a former Rotorua Girls’ High School student, was working at Rotorua Hospital as a receptionist in the Children’s Ward when she was inspired to pursue nursing.
“Seeing them work, I knew that I wanted to do so much more than what I was currently doing in my role.”
Mahanawai is still in her receptionist role while studying and says the scholarship has helped her financially.
“While on placement we are working 32 hours a week and then we go home and complete our classwork. The scholarship has really helped financially as I had to cut back the hours I was working, and this meant I could still afford my living expenses.”
The Whakapumau Pae Tawhiti - Retention Scholarships are open to current Toi Ohomai students, with the aim of encouraging the retention of Māori, Pacific, and learners with disabilities into higher levels of tertiary study at Toi Ohomai.
This recognises that graduates of higher-level tertiary education programmes play an important role in supporting the economic and social wellbeing and prosperity of their communities and whānau.
Learners completing higher-level qualifications not only contribute valuable skills and knowledge to our region and Aotearoa New Zealand but also provide essential role models for educational success to future students and their whānau.
Mahanawai was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by an Engagement Facilitator and was surprised when she found out she had been successful.
“It really gives you that push to keep going.”
Mahanawai knows she wants to work in a hospital environment once she graduates but she also dreams of one day becoming a nurse practitioner.
“As far as I’m aware, there are only two nurse practitioners here who are of Cook Island descent.
“More Māori and Pacific Island nurses and doctors are needed as our people are overrepresented in every health issue.”
She encourages others to take scholarship opportunities seriously.
“Don’t doubt yourself. It’s always hard to talk yourself up and speak well of yourself but give it a try, you have nothing to lose.”