Mātai News

High-flying interns

The Gisborne Herald, 11 December 2022

Introducing the 16 local students taking part in a 10-week summer internship at Mātai Research Institute. Image: Liam Clayton

The two programmes provide students with the opportunity to be involved with cutting-edge projects, working alongside a team of expert scientists, clinicians, research staff, PhD students, and iwi health providers.


Te Puni Kōkiri Cadets

Ariana Brown (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Maniapoto), Lytton High School Ariana is in her third year of a conjoint Bachelor of Health Sciences (majoring in Public Health) and a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Auckland. Through the Mātai internship programme, she hopes to learn from leading policy experts and researchers while fostering connections with iwi health providers who have worked tirelessly to better the health of Tairāwhiti so that she may have the opportunity to come home and join them once she graduates.

Grace Cleland-Pottie (Ngā Puhi, Niuean), Gisborne Girls’ High School Grace has finished her second year of a Bachelor of Data Science majoring in Population Health at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha (University of Canterbury). “The new driving force for all industries, especially the healthcare industry, is data. “Seeing both data and healthcare coalesce has inspired me to be a bridge of communication between the two fields. Along with this, showing rangatahi within my community that you can succeed in anything you are passionate about is a goal I believe this internship will help me reach.”

Jackson Clarke (Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Ngā Puhi),Gisborne Boys’ High School Jackson is in his first year at the University of Auckland, studying a Bachelor of Engineering. He is hoping to gain experience in his fields of interest through working on the Mātai projects and is grateful to be taking part of this internship in his home town. Jackson intends to return home after finishing his studies. He is excited to be a part of and learn more about the research Mātai does.

Jakob Teneti (Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Porou), Gisborne Boys’ High School Jakob is a medical student at the University of Auckland. He believes that the Mātai internship will provide an opportunity to help build his confidence and reintroduce himself to the health sector. he also wishes to engage in kaupapa Māori where he hopes to learn new skills that will empower him to become a more culturally competent doctor.His goal is to return home after his degree and serve his community as either a general practitioner or a paediatrician. He feels that the Mātai internship programme will help him develop important leadership and communication skills that will serve him as a doctor to make a meaningful difference in his community.

Jovan Potter (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Awa) Te Kareti o Kapiana/Campion College Jovan has completed his first year at the University of Otago studying Foundation Health Science and will continue into the Health Science first year programme in 2023. To Jovan, the Mātai internship is a great opportunity to explore other areas in the health industry and he aims to learn more about medical imaging and other career pathways offered at Mātai. He is also interested in the involvement of Mātai in our community, and especially Māori.

Paige Richter (Te Whānau a Apanui, Taranaki), Lytton High School Paige is an aspiring Māori wahine from Te Tairāwhiti, aiming to enter the medical field. She believes the Mātai internship is a key stepping stone for entering this field. Paige is has completed a Certificate of Health Science at the University of Auckland and will study Health Science next year, with aspirations to enter medicine and surgery in 2024. Mātai is supporting her studies through the Bronwen Holdsworth Mātai Scholarship. Paige hopes this internship will an opportunity to work with like-minded people while learning, growing and contributing to our community.

Rikki Noble (Ngā Ruahine) Gisborne Boys’ High School Rikki is a recipient of a Mātai scholarship and is a first year Engineering student studying at the University of Auckland. He is interested in the research programmes offered at Mātai and hopes to use the internship as an opportunity to explore potential educational interests. He hopes to contribute towards various research projects and be able to make a positive impact on the community.

Mātai Summer Interns

Braden Fowell (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Konohi, Ngāi Tūhoe), Scots College Braden is a second year Psychology and Māori Studies student at the University of Otago. He is excited by the internship programme as it provides him with an opportunity to support the ground-breaking research Mātai is undertaking while contributing to the local community in which he was raised. He hopes to utilise the Mātai internship as a stepping stone into a lifelong career. He also sees the internship as a way to support tangata whenua through research and encourage and tautoko rangatahi to pursue similar fields.

Katie Blackburne, Gisborne Girls’ High School Katie has recently completed her Master of Science in Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience at Victoria University of Wellington. She has an interest in the brain and how it affects behaviour including areas such as mental health, neurological disorders, brain injury, and substance abuse. She hopes to learn about the range of research that Mātai is involved with and to get experience working with the MRI equipment while consolidating ideas for future studies.

Nusrat Ahmad, Gisborne Girls’ High School Nusrat Ahmad is a second-year optometry student at the University of Auckland. Through taking part in the Mātai internship, she hopes to get a better understanding of how medical research works and how new treatments and devices are created. This will help her keep up with new developments in her field of study and inform the advice she gives to patients.

Sabine Lapointe, Gisborne Girls’ High School Sabine Lapointe recently completed her first year at the University of Otago, studying Neuroscience and Science Communication. She sees the Mātai student internship as a gateway into meaningful scientific research and as an avenue to further explore and gain skills in science communication. She hopes to come away with practical skills and knowledge in research procedures, bioengineering and medical imaging while forming new connections with other students, researchers and members of our community. She believes this internship will be valuable in linking her learning at university to a project that will benefit the Tairāwhiti community.

Haylea Rodgers, Gisborne Girls’ High School Haylea is finishing a Bachelor of Medical Sciences with Honours at the University of Otago before continuing her medical placement in Christchurch in 2023. “My passion for medicine and the incredible mysteries of the human body has brought many opportunities, the current one being medical research. I plan to return home with my kete of knowledge and help improve community health outcomes. Mātai has allowed this dream to become a reality sooner than I imagined.”

Jet Wright (Rongowhakaata) Te Kareti o Kapiana/Campion College, St Peters College Jet has just completed his postgraduate diploma in neuroscience following a Bachelor’s degree majoring in neuroscience and minoring in psychology. Jet decided to study neuroscience because the brain has always interested him and there is still relatively little knowledge about it. Jet is planning to do a PhD with Mātai over the next three years.

Gina Waters (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu Wairoa, Kai Tahu), Gisborne Girls’ High School Gina has 15 years’ experience in community work and clinical mental health practice in both New Zealand and Australia. Gina is enrolled in the clinical psychology doctorate programme at the University of Auckland. She is supported by the Esme and Tom Tombleson Family Trust and a Centre for Brain Research doctoral scholarship. Gina has an interest in supporting innovative research programmes which have strong translation into clinical mental health practice for improving wellbeing outcomes, especially for Māori. She was recently awarded a Mātai-based HRC grant to support her research in Tairāwhiti. She has a number of Bachelors degrees, including in Indigenous Studies, Law, Social Work and Psychology.

Ben Bristow, Gisborne Boys High School Ben completed his postgraduate diploma (neuroscience) and is excited to start his PhD back here next year. He is involved with Mātai’s study looking at brain recovery following meth abstinence and his PhD next year will follow a similar avenue. “Neuroscience sparked my interest after learning about the brain’s complexity and the huge variety of research available. I am very grateful for the opportunity Mātai has given me, allowing me to gain experience outside of university in my home town.”

Julia Imo is of Samoan descent. She was born in Auckland and grew up in Sydney, Australia. She returned to New Zealand in 2019 and has always had a keen interest in technology and its potential in the way healthcare is designed and delivered. Julia is also passionate about using Pasifika concepts to underpin her research approach. She hopes her research will allow her to engage and improve the well-being of her community.