Kia Ora from Aotearoa!

– Lucy Wu –

Aotearoa is the Māori name for New Zealand and translates to the ‘land of the long white cloud’. I am incredibly fortunate to call this stunning country my home. Below is one of our famous black sand beaches from the west coast of the North Island.

Finland and Aotearoa are on opposite sides of the world, so here are a few facts about Aotearoa…

– Kia Ora means ‘to be well/healthy’ and is used as a greeting, farewell and expression of thanks
– Aotearoa is made of 2 main islands, North Island and South Island, with around 600 smaller islands within its waters
– Our national bird is the Kiwi; we also refer to ourselves as Kiwis
– We have the longest place name in the world
‘Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu’ which is roughly translated as “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as the land-eater, played his nose flute to his loved ones”.
– First country to give women the vote in 1893
– Wellington is the southernmost capital in the world
– We have a very diverse and multicultural population with people from all around the world
– Auckland is the largest city where about 1.5 million people live; this is just over 1/3 of the county’s population
– Sir Edmund Hilary was first to climb Mt Everest and is on the $5 note
– We are a very friendly country where it is normal to smile and say hello to people you pass on the street, even when you don’t know them!

I went to Finland to complete a Master’s in Public Health and came back to complete an internship at a primary health organisation in Auckland called ProCare Health Ltd.

During this internship I worked on a project to help with the government’s goal of Smokefree 2025 where they aim to have less than 5% of the population smoking. The current rate is just over 15% with great variation depending on ethnicity, age and socioeconomic status. The internship itself was very challenging and it was a taste of how national policies and programs are actually implemented in the field. I was fortunate enough to attend many community events, below is the annual lantern festival where we got some delicious food!

Aotearoa is a very complex country from the health lens as it is not a homogenous population. There are specific needs for each population, which makes it incredibly hard to decide from the local to national level which issues to focus on and dedicate funding too. Though the country is highly developed, very blessed geographical and possess an open mind-set over all – there are still many challenges to overcome. In light of all the challenges and complexities, Aotearoa offers unique opportunities to make an impact and learn a great deal along the way. The country is fortunate enough to provide the opportunity to be at the forefront for many disciplines, from rowing to farming to earthquake engineering. The people, the nature and the food are definitely worth the long flight down to the bottom of the world.