Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Another doctor and nurse in the whare

When brother and sister Eruera and Tumanako Bidois are back home at their marae, Tarimano, Rotorua, they’re getting used to having their aunties, uncles, and kaumātua asking them for medical advice.

Eruera, 25, and Tumanako, 22 (Te Arawa, Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Tahu, NgātiWhāoa), graduated from the Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau/University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences late last year, Eruera with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree (a medical degree), and Tumanako with a Bachelor of Nursing degree.

They are two of the 83 students who came through the faculty’s MAPAS (Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme) and graduated with health and medical qualifications last year.

Eruera has now started working as a registered medical officer (junior doctor) with Lakes DHB at Rotorua Hospital, while Tumanako is returning to the University of Auckland to do a medical degree – her long-held dream.

The siblings say the difference Māori health workers make is mostly within the communities with which they interact everyday – on the marae, with whānau at kainga, and especially with tamariki. “We serve as an informal knowledge base, where we can explain medications or disease to our whānau and be a bridge between them and the medical world. We can encourage them and engage with them in their/our realm,” says Eruera.

“At the same time, our increasing presence in the hospitals make a new norm of Māori as doctors, nurses, and carers. When it is commonplace to go to hospital and see a Māori doctor, with a mouth that speaks Te Reo, then our tamariki see this and think ‘I can do that’.”
Turning points

As a kōtiro Tumanako had wanted to be a vet, only to discover she was allergic to most animals. Her focus turned towards people, and a visit to her kura kaupapa (Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu) by the faculty’s student recruitment programme Whakapiki Ake crystallised her ambitions.
A few years earlier, a visit by the recruiters had also been pivotal for her brother. “Without Whakapiki Ake and MAPAS, my medical journey wouldn’t exist,” says Eruera, who was all set to move to Wellington and train as an engineer. “From the visit, I learnt of the massive need for Māori medical practitioners who understand the Māori mindset from a very personal level.”
Both siblings completed the one-year bridging programme, the Hikitia Te Ora.

It was a huge transition, moving from a world where everyone spoke Te Reo Māori to one where he had to actively seek out people with whom to kōrero freely, he says. When his little sister moved up to join him, “she was an anchor for me in my Māoritanga”, and helped him retain his reo.

Tumanako hoped to pursue a degree in medicine, “however, my life had different plans”, she says. She found her first year in Biomedical Sciences (the ‘pre-med’ year) very challenging with studies and the Bidois whānau losing three members in just nine months. She wasn’t accepted into Medical School and so switched to nursing.

She says that nursing has not only taught her many skills, it’s made her a better person. “The core values in nursing are empathy and compassion. I believe my journey in understanding these values has contributed to who I am today. Also, I find it very humbling that we get to work alongside whānau during a very personal time for them. It is a unique position and I draw passion from knowing that I am able to make a positive impact on their journey.”

Support and resilience

Their whānau are deeply proud and supportive of the pair, who are the first in their whānau to work in the health sector. “This support has enabled us to chase our goals without ever feeling pressured,” says Tumanako. Their pāpā, Ngahihi o te Rā Bidois, was last year elected to the Lakes DHB.

The siblings have advice for others contemplating careers in health.

Tumanako: “Don’t lose hope if things do not quite work out. There are many opportunities out there to make a positive difference in health.”

Eruera: “If you’re keen on medicine and you’re Māori, there’s a fantastic team at Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau who are there and ready to help you along your journey. Hoia tō waka!”

And choose your friends well, he adds. “Mā te kahukura, ka rere te manu. Your whānau and friends will be your feathers to allow you to fly! Make sure you look after them and pick the right friends to help with your journey!”

Eruera graduated at a ceremony at the Auckland Town Hall on Friday 15 November. Tumanako graduated at a ceremony at the same venue on Friday 29 November.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Charlotte Yates' Mansfield Project

Katherine Mansfield's vapid verses are of even less interest than her over-rated short stories, but Yates has risen to the challenge of producing a fascinating compilation album by a variety of musicians to accompany her poetry. More>>

Howard Davis: Dazed & Confused by Beats

Beats is both a coming-of-age tale and a romantic movie about endings, set to a nostalgic backdrop of the disappearing tail of the UK's illegal rave scene. More>>

Howard Davis: And The Oscar Goes To … Parasite
For its deliciously dark wit and genre-bending ingenuity, Bong Joon-ho's latest movie has just won four out of a potential six Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay and Director. Only ten foreign-language films have previously been nominated for Best Picture and none have won before. More>>

Howard Davis: 1917's 1,000 Yard Stare

Sam Mendes has created a terrible and barbarous trek, one that we appreciate all the more for being catapulted right into the midst of this ear-splitting melee from the film's opening sequence. More>>

Howard Davis: 1917's 1,000 Yard Stare

Sam Mendes has created a terrible and barbarous trek, one that we appreciate all the more for being catapulted right into the midst of this ear-splitting melee from the film's opening sequence. More>>

Over 150 Productions: NZ Fringe 2020 Has Launched

The upcoming festival will be held at 40 venues all over Wellington Region from 28 February to 21 March, and includes every genre possible—theatre, comedy, dance, music, clowning, cabaret, visual art, children’s shows and more! More>>





  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland