Topic: Education

Māori health professor attributes success to whānau

By Lynette Amoroa
  • South Island

For the fourth year running, an academic from the University of Otago has taken out the Prime Minister's Supreme Award for tertiary teaching excellence.

Last night the award was presented to Associate Professor Suzanne Pitama, Director of the Māori/Indigenous Health Institute at the University of Otago.

Forteen years of teaching has earnt her the ultimate prize under the Prime Minister's awards.

Pitama says, “When I started University way back in 1989, I pursued the learning environment.”

Pitama is a child psychologist who has been involved in Māori health research for over 18 years.  But it's her strong support for kaupapa Māori-based methodologies in child mental health and Māori health community-based projects that makes her stand out. 

Pitama acknowledged, "My Nuhaka whānau who are the reason for what I do."

The University of Otago can also celebrate the success of their other colleagues, Dr Roslyn Kemp and Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith, who received awards in the General category.

Suzanne is currently leading a project that is focusing on the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Māori communities as well as co-investigating the role of medical education in addressing health disparities.