Summer Studentships a rich opportunity for learning

Over December and January, five students from a diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds joined Pegasus Health as part of their learning journey. Each student was placed within a team and undertook a project that matched their individual interests and area of study.

Summer Studentship coordinator and Pegasus Director of Hauora Māori and Equity, Irihāpeti Mahuika, reflected on the presence and mahi of the students during their presentation of their projects at the conclusion of their time with Pegasus.

“I feel we have been absolutely blown away and privileged to spend time with you and learn from you.”


Second year nursing student, Leon Haiu, was placed with the Equity Leadership Team. Accepting the student position was tough as Leon faced the feeling of imposter syndrome.

“I can’t sing the praises of Maria Pasene and Irihāpeti Mahuika enough. They really helped get me across the line,” Leon explains.

“I’ve been reflecting the whole way through and I’m so, so grateful for Pegasus Health and what they’ve done in regard to these summer internships. I can’t sing the praises of this organisation enough. It really
has been transformational for me. I want to take manaakitanga and share it in my future workplaces.”

Leon worked closely with fellow student, Maca Vuniwaqa, and Tangata Atumotu Trust to develop a COVID-19 resource for Pasifika. This is a resource created by Pasifika, for Pasifika and, in Leon’s words, reflects the “collective paradigm in how we live, move and speak.”


Southlander, Reuben Kemna, was placed with the nursing team at Te Puna Wai, supporting them in providing primary health care to the young people at the facility. This was Reuben’s second time joining the Te Puna Wai team, as he completed his community placement for his nursing degree there earlier in 2021.

“I couldn’t say enough about the [nursing] team and what they do. It’s really hard to put it into words. They’re doing really cool stuff and making big differences in health out there, and they’re just a wee small team.

“All it takes is one really awesome role model to turn a young person’s life around. We only hope that on their journey that they can meet one person that perhaps changes their trajectory entirely. It’s a massive hope but it would be awesome if they went out and never came into touch with youth justice or correctional services again.”

Reuben worked closely with the wider Te Puna Wai team to research and develop an online information hub called Te Aka Hauora.

“It’s a youth website and it’s for improving navigation and access to healthcare for youth. It brings together all the services that exist for youth health in Canterbury into one central hub, with equity as its guiding principle.”


Setu Te Hae is about to enter his final year of his nursing degree at Ara Institute of Canterbury. With an interest in primary health care, Setu was placed with the Practice Relationship Team.

“It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve been on numerous GP visits where I’ve sat in just to see what it is they do. I also got some experience working in the community, at Menz Medical and the COVID-19 testing station at Nga Hāu e Whā.

“The team gave me awesome opportunities to experience a range of things. They’re just so supportive.”

Setu’s studentship project was around equity. “I designed an Equity Policy Template for General Practices.”

The first step in the project was to survey the general practices. Generally, the practices recognised a gap in their policies around equity and were eager for support to develop a policy to address equity.


Final year Bachelor of Social Work student, Maca Vuniwaqa, came to New Zealand from Fiji in 2005.

Since being here, she’s taken the opportunity to follow her passion.

“I want to help my own people and my own community and my own family. For Māori and Pasifika, it’s good to have our own people to help.”

Maca took this drive with her into her studentship project. Working with Leon and Tangata Atumotu Trust, Maca helped develop a COVID-19 resource for Pasifika.

“This resource is really important to us, as Pasifika, because English is our second language. We wrote it so a Year 8 student could understand because that way our Matua with English as a second language can also understand.

Many Pasifika hold a spiritual belief that makes them wary of the vaccine. “We go in as Pasifika to help them understand that it’s something that helps their wellbeing and their health.”

Maca has found a second family in the Partnership Community Worker team. “They’re very supportive and they really care me. They’re always there when I need help.”

Go together, go far

Egyptian student, Lobna Falestine, has been juggling her Master of Nursing Science with working as a Mental Health Support Worker, a choice she makes to achieve balance and connection.

“I work to give and provide and see people growing in front of me. With my study I’m gaining skills and feeling more confident in what I’m doing.”

Lobna completed her summer studentship with the Clinical Quality Education Team.

“I was working with the Small Group Education team who were preparing a range of material and I chose to research eating disorders in children and athletes, because my area of interest is mental health.

“The team supported me to the extent that I’ve found myself more confident in my research, which is so great!”

“The CQE team are a gracious team to work with. The really demonstrate manaakitanga. I felt supported and valued by the team. I’ve learned that we can be influential wherever we go to create this kind of safe environment in our workplaces.”

Cover image – Back row from left: Lobna Falestine, Setu Te Hae, Maca Vuniwaqa
Front Row: Reuben Kemna, Leon Haiu


View the February newsletter.