Māori graduate 'blessed' to gain New York internship

By D'Angelo Martin

A group of AUT graduates are heading overseas to take up an internship opportunity. One of the students, Mihikeita Ngata (Ngāti Porou), who is soon to graduate in a Bachelors of Health Science, will be travelling over to New York in the United States where she will complete her all-expenses-paid internship. 

With not long to go now for some of these students before they head over overseas:

Health Science graduate Mihikeita Ngata says, "I can't even explain, like if there was a word above grateful I'd use that. Maybe blessed is the term I think.

“I remember as a little girl probably year 9-10, I had a dream to always go to New York one day and one of the crazy ideas I had in my head was to work with the UN one day.

The universe heard her calling, and now this internship programme will make her dream a reality. Four hundred students applied for a position to secure an internship but only 30 spots were available.

"I was super confused, because I thought it was going to be like:

"Oh hi, we're just letting you know that your interview was terrible," but it was actually, “Hi, we loved your interview and we'd love to offer you the role now.

“I actually told the lady that I was speaking with "I'm actually going to cry and she was like “don't cry, you’ll make me cry” and then we'll both cry."

AUT Assistant Vice-Chancellor Andrea Vujnovich says:

"We wanted to stress the employability of our graduates. If one of our graduates can make it there then they can make it anywhere. Now we've tripled the size of it we have around 32 interns from New York way over to London, we're hoping to go into Shanghai in 2020."

"There are actually four AUT graduates that are Māori that are going over, and my job basically generic term is an intern. So I'm a glorified run around girl.

“But two of the kaupapa, that I will be assisting over there are two global indigenous forum," Ngata says.

Jamey Bailee (Ngāti Hāmoa) has just returned from his internship experience in Washington DC. He is now a helping hand for the new interns coming through. 

“It's nothing that I thought that would be available to me, I didn't think after graduating that I'll be moving halfway across the world.

“It was very much an opportunity that was presented to me like “hey you've got the degree and the qualifications to go and do this."

Mihikeita Ngata will be overseas for four months and intends to fill her basket of knowledge to bring back and share with her whānau and iwi.

"Keeping in mind my why, why I'm there. I'm extremely passionate about indigenous health Māori health.

“I guess if I keep that at the back of my mind, and make sure that my tūpuna have my back as well then I'll be able to do the do."

The Ngāti Porou descendant heads off to New York in February next year.