Most read: 'Blatant, dumb-arse racism' - medical students express concern towards Māori entrance pathway

This story was first published on Wednesday August 29

Third-year medical student Nadine Houia-Ashwell. Source:

Māori students studying medicine at the University of Otago say they are fed up with the ignorance they face over the way they are selected into their second year of study.

There are limited spaces in the second-year program and everyone in their first year has to reach a grade threshold.

But in a push to improve the diversity of the health work force, all Māori students who meet the minimum grade requirement, can identify their Māori heritage through whakapapa, and complete an essay showing their commitment to giving back to Māori communities, make it through.

It's known as the Māori Entry Pathway.

Once Māori students who have used the pathway make it into their second year of study, they are required to sit the same exams and reach the same standards to qualify as doctors like all other students.

Other students, who apply in the general pathway, compete for limited spaces and grades can become competitive.

Third-year medicine student Tiana Mihaere has been told on many occasions the Māori Entry Pathway is wrong and unfair.

"I remember being in the dining hall one time and some girl was having a moan about how unfair the pathway was and it was just real blatant, dumb-arse racism.

"But it is a big problem. Every Māori student that does Health Science will have experienced some form of racism during that year."

She said its a lack of understanding about the state of Māori health, and the need for Māori in the health work force that leads to attitudes like this.

Figures from the New Zealand Medical Council show Māori make up just 3.4 percent of all doctors in New Zealand.

Third year medicine student Nadine Houia-Ashwell said the Māori entry pathway existed to lift that.

"Across the motu, across New Zealand, it's our Māori communities that are suffering the most from health issues and the university want to prioritise getting Māori students through because those students are more likely to go back to those communities and actually make a difference."

Ms Houia-Ashwell said Māori students were sometimes seen to get "special treatment".

But she said Māori had the worst health outcomes in the country and the university recognised that.

"I think the way people frame that is, 'oh you're Māori so you get this', and it's like, well, if I could trade off for the years of shit health, and the stuff my whanau have had to face, and all the shit that my ancestors have put up with then I would.

"But unfortunately that's not the way it is and it's part of the reason why we're here, is to change that."

The University of Otago has seen a steady increase in Māori students entering health professional programs, with numbers rising from 138 in 2010 to 309 in 2016.

Associate Professor Jo Baxter said Māori needed to be at the forefront of improving Māori health outcomes.

"What we do know is that Māori in the work force make a real difference for Māori health so we have a great opportunity if we can grow the numbers in training then we will be able to grow the numbers out there in the work force.

"That will have a down-stream impact on making a difference to Māori health."

Ms Mihaere said her peers were generally accepting of the pathway once they become informed about why it was there.

"Individuals still use the excuse that Māori are the reason why they didn't get into med, and that's on them. But there is definitely movement in people's whakaaro once they become more informed.

"At the end of the day, once you're in, you still have to pass the exact same exams that everyone else has to pass. I think its just more around education, and that needs to happen at an earlier level, not at university."

Ms Houia-Ashwell had a message for those who don't understand why Māori entrance pathway is important.

"Take it upon yourself to learn about why we have these pathways.

"They're there for the exact same reasons you are, to get into medical school, and they come from these backgrounds that give them these unique lived experiences that perhaps not all students have had."

The Māori Entry Pathway has been used for more than 20 years. It shows how times have changed - Māui Pōmare, the first Māori doctor, gained his qualification in Chicago in 1899.

- Te Aniwa Hurihanganui

Rentable e-scooters could 'revolutionise' way Aucklanders get around with 2500 set to hit city's streets

A fleet of e-scooters is about to hit Auckland streets which the public can rent to get around town.

A media release today says an initial order of 500 Onzo e-scooters are en route to Auckland and set to hit the streets next month.

The company says a further 2000 will join them in coming months.

With a 250W motor, the e-scooters are capable of top speeds of around 30 kilometres per hour and can cover around 30 kilometres before requiring a recharge.

"E-scooters are great because they make travelling easy and fun," Onzo Chief Growth Officer, Min-Kyu Jung, says.

"Unlike bikes, e-scooters are allowed to be used on footpaths and don’t require helmets. They're perfect to pick up anywhere, anytime, for last-mile journeys such as between the bus stop and the office.

"I think this is totally going to revolutionise the way Aucklanders travel around this city. We're designing the system to make it super quick, easy, and cheap to pick up e-scooters for short journeys multiple times a day."

The scooters are said to feature regenerative braking to recharge the battery when the brakes are applied, or when a rider is going downhill.

They also have front and rear lights for added safety.

Just like Onzo's bikes, the system will be dockless and users will simply use the Onzo app to unlock the scooters from wherever they're left around the city by the previous rider.

Onzo will crowdsource the recharging of the scooters at night to the public.

Onzo e-scooter. Source: Supplied

Winston Peters explains party's support for raising refugee quota

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says NZ First shared the Labour Party's "aspiration" to increase the refugee quota, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced it will be raised to 1500 today.

The NZ First Party leader's position was in stark contrast to comments made at the start of the month at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

"We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota," Mr Peters told media at the time.

The Deputy PM went on to argue there were other priorities for the Government.

"We've got 50,000 people who are homeless back home, and I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, with people living in degradation.

"We have to fix their lives up as well before we start taking on new obligations of the level that some people would like."

However, while standing next to Ms Ardern during the announcement today he took a much softer line on the refugee issue.

"This is about people not about politics and controversy, the fact is it was put to me in Nauru that the 1500 figure was already there, which it wasn't.

"The Labour Party policy I knew was an aspiration towards that, so was New Zealand First's an aspiration towards that, and I knew the Greens had a higher target," Mr Peters said.

"All I did was put out the plain facts and to say that it was a work in progress and I'm not surprised with the speed at which the progress has taken place.

"This was always on the cards that we'd get it done when we had all the background work done on refugee centres and a host of other things," he continued.

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand's refugee quota was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years.

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre  

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS


New Zealand's refugee quota jumps to 1500 per year from July 2020, Government announces

New Zealand’s refugee quota will be raised to 1500, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. 

It was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

That's 500 extra people who'll be making New Zealand home annually. Source: 1 NEWS

"It is the right thing to do," said Ms Ardern. 

"It puts New Zealand much more in line with the humanitarian policies of other developed countries."

Deputy PM Winston Peters said the increase was "about people, not about politics and controversy". 

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years. 

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre 

ONN 1 News at 6 promo image
For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS


Yesterday, Ms Ardern told media she wanted to see the current quota increased but a sticking point has been the vastly different policy positions of Labour's Government partners. 

Labour pledged to raise the quota to 1500 and the Green Party aimed for a quota of 5000.

Earlier this month NZ First's Winston Peters told media in Nauru that the focus needed to be on New Zealanders struggling at home.

"We have 50,000 people who are homeless back home and I can show you parts of Northland where people are living in degradation," Mr Peters said, while being questioned at the Pacific Islands' Forum.

National's Simon Bridges said yesterday if the refugee quota was lower than 1500 it would be a demonstration of "Winston Peters undermining the Prime Minister".

"If you look at the Prime Minister's rhetoric she's made great play about being a globalist, a progressive with soaring rhetoric on these issues.

"It's all very well to do the photo ops, the international pieces, but when you've got important questions like this back home that... [are] now are up in the air because of a lack of unanimity and cohesion."

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

Bert and Ernie aren't gay, Sesame Street insists as persistent puppet sexuality rumours swell again

On again off again gay rights icons Bert and Ernie aren't gay. Repeat: The famous puppets are not in a same-sex relationship.

That's the word from the producers of Sesame Street, who had to quell rumours about the duo's personal life yet again today after the theory - oft repeated over the show's nearly 50-year history -- was stoked by an interview with a former writer.

"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were (gay)," said Mark Saltzman, who wrote for the show throughout most of the 1980s, in an interview with LGBTQ website Queerty.

"I don't think I'd know how else to write them, but as a loving couple... Because how else?"

Mr Saltzman said he was inspired to write their loving interactions and minor quibbles by his own relationship.

But in a tweet this morning, Sesame Street issued a statement insisting that "they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation".

"As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," producers said. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves."

A writer previously revealed he wrote the roommates as a gay couple, but Sesame Workshop says none of the show’s puppets have a sexual orientation. Source: 1 NEWS