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Honorary Otago Degree For Mäori Health Leader

12 August 2004

Honorary Otago Degree For Mäori Health Leader

A Mäori doctor who has played a major role in lifting the health status of Mäori will receive an honorary doctorate at next weekend’s graduation ceremony at the University of Otago.

Dr Paratene Ngata, who lives and works in the remote East Coast settlement of Tolaga Bay, is of Ngäti Porou, Ngäti Ira and Te Aitanga a Hauiti descent. His Doctor of Laws degree will be conferred as part of the University of Otago’s celebration of the centenary of its first Mäori graduate Te Rangi Hïroa (Sir Peter Buck).

Dr Ngata graduated from the Otago Medical School with MB ChB degrees in 1970, and after working in the North Island as a general practitioner went on to further study in Community Health. He has played a major part in leading and supporting initiatives in Mäori health, and has been heavily involved with training and support for Mäori health professionals, says University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg.

"Dr Ngata has always been willing to share his broad knowledge of Mäori health with key agents in the health sector. His support and encouragement of young Mäori entering the Otago Medical School is well known, and he has made an enormous contribution to the developing Mäori health workforce," says Professor Skegg.

Dr Ngata’s focus has been on building relationships and supporting individuals and communities throughout his 30-year career, says Professor Skegg. He was recognised as the Public Health Association’s Public Health Champion in 2000, and for the last twenty years has been involved in programmes to stop violence and abuse.

Dr Ngata, who will also be guest speaker at the graduation ceremony, is a gifted orator with the ability to bridge gaps between young and old, and between Mäori and Pakeha – "He is universally regarded as a rangatira, who has given a new impetus to the work for Mäori health that Te Rangi Hïroa started nearly a century ago," says Professor Skegg.

ENDS

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