Maia Gardiner’s (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngai Te Rangi, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa) goal has always been clear; help her people.
She hasn’t always been sure of how until she came to the University of Waikato. Maia is in her second year of a Bachelor of Health and is this year’s Braemar Charitable Trust Scholarship in Health recipient.
The Braemar Charitable Trust Scholarship in Health is awarded to a second-year student of a Bachelor of Health who shows the potential to make a difference in community health.
Maia grew up in Tūrangi and Whakatane. After leaving high school, she attended AUT, studying psychology and then management. However they didn’t fire a passion within her and so she left study and returned home to Tūrangi.
She took a year working in hospitality and retail trying to find her path and determine what she wanted to pursue. Her role as a frame and lens specialist gave her an insight into the health industry.
Maia began researching population health degrees in Aotearoa and enrolled in a paper at Massey by distance. She soon realised that distance learning wasn’t for her and went back to searching.
“I came across Waikato’s Poutū-manahau Population Health programme and was instantly sold. This is the only population health degree in Aotearoa that incorporates a significant amount of te ao Māori.”
Maia is passionate about Māori health and assisting in creating equity in the health system. She recognises the vulnerability in the current health system and wants to create a space where Māori and Pasifika can feel supported. “I am really passionate about helping my people and working in health is a way I can tangibly do it.”
Maia says it is incredibly heart-warming to receive a scholarship for something that she is so passionate about. “I really love my studies and what I am doing so this scholarship will enable me to thrive while I am studying. It also feels great to be supported by the University and Braemar Charitable Trust.”
In addition to her studies, Maia is heavily involved in the health and Māori communities on campus. In 2021 she was selected to go to the rural health conference in Taupō as well as volunteering at Students of Rural Health Aotearoa (SoRHA), an organisation that travels to rural areas to promote health studies. She is currently a Māori mentor for the Division of Health, Engineering, Computing and Science (HECS), a tuakana mentor for Te Kāhui Pīrere (a support programme for first year Māori students), the Māori and Pasifika representative on a student-focused STEM board (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and is a student representative for HECS as well as being part of Te Āhurutanga, a Māori leadership programme.
Braemar Charitable Trust manager Paula Baker says the trust is pleased to award the scholarship to a candidate who encompasses the purpose of the scholarship.
“Maia is clearly passionate about making a difference and is already taking steps to immerse herself in the health system. Her commitment to her community demonstrates she will go a long way in the health sector. On behalf of the trust, I congratulate Maia and look forward to following her success.”
As part of the scholarship, Maia has the opportunity for a work placement to further enhance her learning and development.