Ngāti Konohi, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi
Mihiterina Williams is a student in the Doctoral Clinical Psychology Programme, set to complete her PhD by 2026.
"I was inspired to pursue a qualification in clinical psychology to learn and acquire tools and skills, coupled with mātauranga Māori, that contribute to solutions in a manner that holds space for Māori to be the experts and healers of their own journeys. It is impossible to deny the disruption colonisation has made to Indigenous knowledge, healing practices, and well-being outcomes here in Aotearoa, historically and currently. The inter- and trans-generational trauma endured over the years has led to various challenges underpinning our whānau experiences within the mental health system.
"It is a privilege to be surrounded by many like-minded tauira and staff who view the profession of psychology in a similar light, specifically when considering the overall status of the mental health system here in Aotearoa. We also have opportunities to learn, observe, and grow in clinical and team environments.
"I was fortunate enough to attain the University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship. As someone not from Tāmaki Makaurau, the scholarship alleviates financial pressures that support me to return home to my whānau who live down the line. It also allows me to prioritise the expectations of the clinical programme, including the academic and placement requirements. Many sacrifices were made in my Honours year to achieve this scholarship. It was a short-term struggle but has meant a long-term gain in terms of support with covering tuition fees and providing a stipend over the next 2-3 years.
It is a privilege to be surrounded by many like-minded tauira and staff who view the profession of psychology in a similar light.
"The friendships I have made over the years have undoubtedly been one of the many highlights of my journey here at the University of Auckland. They say you are your environment, and the many highs and lows I have experienced over the years were always endured with the support of my friends and whānau. Similarly, Waipapa Marae has also been a site of support, aroha, and grounding for me. We use the term' ahuru mōwai' or safe haven, and I identify Waipapa Marae as being that space for me while studying. I must also acknowledge the amazing staff within the programme, as well as the staff located in Māori studies – they provide ongoing support for tauira Māori that is empowering and encourage tauira to be their own authentic selves.
"Ngā Tauira Māori (NTM) is the official Māori Student Association of Waipapa Taumata Rau, The University of Auckland, and I was lucky enough to be part of as a tauira, as Treasurer in 2020 and Co-President in 2021. They uplift and support all Māori students in endeavouring towards the pathways they aspire to achieve - be it undergraduates or postgraduates. NTM seeks to preserve and develop the use of tikanga and te reo Māori within the University and the tauira. They strive to support tauira Māori in their formal education as well as in awareness and understanding of their surrounding world. They aim to inspire tauira to influence their environments through an understanding of who they are as tangata whenua.
"I attribute a lot of my academic achievements to the support I found within Tuākana Psychology. I was fortunate enough to return that same support in the form of tutoring over the past year in both Stage 2 and 3 psychology courses. Tuākana is where Māori and Pāsifika students thrive on campus; Tuākana spaces are for whakawhanaungatanga, tutorials, wānanga, fonotaga, workshops, and are dedicated spaces focused on growth and success."