In Year 13 while attending Huanui College, Kahurangi (Kahu) Ross-Hoskins, then 17, attended an Auckland hui organised by Kia Ora Hauora Outreach Programme, where he had the chance to listen to well-known Māori doctor, Lance Sullivan speak. It was the opportunity he needed to confirm his path into medical studies.
“The pride he showed in his work was a turning point for me,” Kahu says.
“He was an inspiration and definitely a figure to emulate. When you’re at a hui like that, ideas germinate in you and while medicine still seemed like a challenge then, listening to him encouraged me to look at studying in Otago. I lacked confidence but that experience definitely helped me narrow down my options.”
Brought up in Whangarei Heads, Kahu (Ngāpuhi), is now a fifth-year Bachelor of Medicine (Surgery) student at the Otago School of Medicine, and while he has not made his final decision on a chosen specialisation, he has a particular interest in psychiatry.
“As a kid, I liked the idea of becoming a marine biologist but in Year 13, I did a bunch of online quizzes designed to help students choose a career and psychiatry kept coming up for me. I’ve since become very interested in the whole discipline of mental health.”
Kahu initially received Kia Ora Hauora funding for his own research project into rangatahi mental health in Northland in 2017 – a study he says, opened his eyes to how bad mental health issues are.
“It’s certainly an area of Māori health that needs more attention and I’m always looking at ways to help people get through mental health issues. I believe exercise helps a lot with your ability to stay positive. I do a lot of yoga, meditation, gym workouts and running and that’s helped build my own confidence and helped me to stay focussed on my studies,” he says.
Kahu has received Pihirau Scholarship funding from the Northland District Health Board, along with ongoing support from Kia Ora Hauora.
“They stay in touch with me and I know they’re always there if I need to reach out for assistance. The help they offer to new students is invaluable and it’s a great starting place for rangatahi who may be thinking about a career in health.”
He’s the first to admit that the path to becoming a fulltime doctor can be a long one but he says the important thing is to take one day at a time.