Kathleen Tereina Nelson

Kathleen Tereina Nelson

Clinical Supervisor, Turuki Healthcare
Master of Arts in Māori Development

Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Ngāti Whatua, Clan Crawford

More research and action are needed on Māori perspectives on trauma-informed care and positive health gains for Māori, says Kathleen Tereina Nelson who completed a Master of Arts in Māori Development in 2021.

“After completing a social work degree, I supported whānau in the Tāmaki community with social work, programmes and community initiatives before working as a social work supervisor at the Auckland District Health Board. After working in both statutory and non-statutory environments, it became evident that social workers were using different skillsets and ways of working to fit their environment.

“As a tāngata whenua social work practitioner, I wanted to further explore and identify kaupapa Māori ways of working and their critical significance in influencing change for whānau we work with. Health and social service providers within Aotearoa New Zealand have struggled to meet the needs and aspirations of tāngata whenua. There’s a need to decolonise institutionalised social work in health and social service delivery.”

Kathleen’s Master of Arts research was supervised by Professor Hinematau McNeil and Dr Elisa Duder.

Embracing students’ worldviews
She was drawn to postgraduate study in Māori development because it aligned with her own values and beliefs, says Kathleen who is of Māori and Scottish descent.

“What I liked about Te Ara Poutama, AUT’s Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Development, was that it offered a wānanga method of learning that is informed by Māori values and beliefs. This aligned with my preferred learning style and allowed me to study while working full-time and being there for my whānau when needed.

“I loved engaging with others who shared the same worldview on kaupapa Māori issues. The safe space was there to whakawhiti korero, to discuss, debate and embrace higher learning. I also appreciated that the academic staff made themselves available to listen and work with you when needed.”

Trying to juggle studies, family and work life had its challenges, she admits.

“Fortunately, the AUT staff were there to encourage and support me. If you’re struggling, reach out to other students and Te Ara Poutama staff who will awhi and support you on your research journey. I felt that my research journey was well supported, and my worldview was encouraged and embraced.”

Making a difference
As a clinical supervisor for Turuki Healthcare, Kathleen loves being able to make a difference to Māori health.

“Turuki Healthcare is a kaupapa Māori health provider that embraces a more holistic approach to working with whānau. Kaupapa Māori ways of working are being utilised to meet the needs of whānau in the community.

“I work in the Mama, Pepi, Tamariki wraparound services team, and provide clinical supervision that helps practitioners critically reflect on their practice, professional and self-development and optimise the best outcomes for the whānau we serve.”

Her master’s degree has given her more clarity, she says.

“My postgraduate study has helped me clearly articulate where I want to channel my energy in my professional career and what outcomes I want to achieve.”