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Speech: Pathways West Launch

Hon Tariana Turia

Associate Minister for Tertiary Skills & Employment

Friday 21 February 2014 SPEECH

(Read on Minister’s behalf)

Pathways West Launch

Unitec and Waitemata DHB

Waitakere Hospital

Auckland

Tena koutou katoa, Talofa lava, Kia orana, Malo e lelei, Ni sa bula vinaka, Taloha ni, Fakaalofa lahi atu.

I want to acknowledge and thank

• Waitemata District Health Board for your role within the Awhina partnership,

• Wendy Horne and David Coltman from Unitec,

• And Mark Shanahan, the Chair of Pathways West.

And I just have to say how absolutely wonderful it is to look out and see all of you rangatahi – representing as I understand – Green Bay High School; Waitakere College; Massey High School; St Dominic’s Catholic College as well as staff from Unitec, New Zealand Career College and Waitemata District Health Board.

Yesterday morning, I sat, along with several thousand other stranded travellers; contemplating the presence of Hine-pukohu-rangi.

Hine-pukohu-rangi is the personification of fog and of mist. Some would say when she appears before us,

“Kei te haereere a Hine Pukohurangi, me tona kete whaowhao rangi”

‘Mist descending is a portent of something momentous’

Now it was about that same time, that Lorde was named Best International Female Solo Artist at the Brit awards. In her acceptance speech the seventeen year old star told the crowd, “I’m still so new to getting awards that my brain feels like it’s exploding.”

So it could well be that the international success of this young woman from Takapuna Grammar, - and her exploding brain - might be the “something momentous” the elements alerted us to.

But actually, when I thought about what was happening here today at this, the Awhina Campus, I thought that Hine Pukohurangi was definitely on to something.

Because truly, the launching of Pathways West – and with it the amazing career and life prospects that will open up within the health sector, does make this day full of opportunity.

Opportunity to make a difference to our communities.

An opportunity to contribute to one of the greatest goals we can foresee – the goal to support people to live life to the full.

I have been so looking forward to being here this morning. The concept of creating career pathways that set career prospects in sight is a really fantastic model.

The other day I met with this family from Taumarunui who told me all about the ways in which they were planning out their future.

One of their priorities was to focus on healthy lifestyle. One of their whanaunga was finding it hard to keep the motivation going and so his cousin told him, get a photo of your kids – or a photo of the body you wish you had – and stick it on your fridge. Then stick one word next to that photo – WHY.

It’s all about the Why – why do we want to invest in health and wellbeing? Why do we want to plan a future career – why do we want to be the best that we can be? Once that motivation is firmly in your sight, you can fly.

Just a bit up the line from here – in Whangarei – there’s a young woman in Kaikohe that knows all about motivation and the reason why. This young girl – Shania Howard – attended Northland College and was getting really annoyed about all of the negative perceptions she was facing about her school.

What really got her going though was when some of her mates at school started singing the same song. They seemed convinced they would never achieve anything in life because they went to a Decile 1 college in a town with its share of social problems.

So Shania took to Facebook, and this is what she said:

Ko au ko toku ahurea, ko toku ahurea ko au
I am my culture and this is what I know.
Our culture is our strength and this cannot be denied,
Will not be hidden and will not be defied.
No we cannot let anybody dictate who we need to be,
Show the world our talents and set your passions free.
Don't let your aspirations be silenced,

stand up and make a noise,

That posting immediately reached 5000 likes – and is still growing. I wanted to share those couple of stories because in many ways what you are doing here today, is about getting yourselves all fired up about your future.

And I have to say, I’m so thrilled to know we have all of this talent and energy going into the health sector. Whether it be as a nurse, an orderly, a physiotherapist or a doctor working in health is all about making a positive difference in the lives of those for whom you care.

Many years ago, I was also seventeen – and my first career in fact, was turning up to Whanganui Hospital and enrolling to become a nurse. Back then – as it is today – my motivation was driven by wanting to contribute to a better quality of life for all our whānau.

I have seen, first hand, that the quality of care is influenced by the relationship between health professionals and our families. I am absolutely of the view that responsibility for health outcomes must be owned by individuals and whanau first, and the role of health professionals is to support them in achieving these goals.

To do that we need to have a healthy physical and social environment – removing tobacco displays from sight or having a sinking lid policy on gambling venues – meaning that when one venue closes, it isn’t replaced – these are a couple of ways in which we influence the images and the messages we receive every day about a good life.

A good life will also be determined by the cultural context we each operate from. It’s about knowing the nuances of our language; our stories; our songs; our history. It’s about understanding the value of relationships – knowing how to pronounce names – demonstrating respect for the members of your family.

It’s not rocket science. Cultural competency can sound pretty flash – but what it is really about is the building of trust, understanding and empathy – and all the time, knowing that solutions are best when they are owned and driven by the people.

It is just so important to invest in our future – to attract and encourage Maori and Pasifika students into the health sector - and to support our communities by having people they can place their trust and confidence in.

That will be your biggest challenge. You have already stepped up to the opportunity – the next step is about understanding, learning and listening to the calls from your communities.

This is a brand new project – and as such – you also have an awesome opportunity to help shape the project to lay a great foundation for those who will undertake this project long after you.

What I love about Pathways West is the recognition that for any learning to be meaningful it must be relevant to your experience while at the same connecting you with new opportunities, further education and training; and ultimately preparing a pathway for a successful career.

In completing the programme you will come away with NCEA Level two with a Vocational Pathways Award in the Social and Community Services Sector.

But it’s not just the qualifications, the skills and the guarantee of employment that makes this programme stand out.

It’s all about whanau.

And so my last message is to all of the families who have come here to support their rangatahi as you embark on this journey today.

You too, have invested in hope; you have willingly taken on a new adventure to support our younger ones in this exciting career.

We know that health workers are continually required to work in new ways – that no day is the same. Technology advances continue to be made within the sector making it a cutting edge place to work. Constant and ongoing change will define the nature of the health landscape.

Against all of that the stable assurance that our families provide – the strength of the values you live be; the foundation that you have each laid out for life becomes even more important.

Today, indeed, is exactly as Hine Pukohurangi predicted it would be – it is a day where something momentous is occurring.

I wish you all great fortitude, immense courage and endless enthusiasm as today we officially launch Pathways West.

Tena tatou katoa.

ENDS

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