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New Zealand’s first ever Health and Wellbeing apprenticeships were launched this year and already those taking part in the workplace training programmes are scooping national awards. Two Mental Health and Addiction apprentices, both supported by Careerforce, took top places at the inaugural Future Business Leaders Awards last week.

Taking the top prize of Overall Future Leader and the Female Future Leader category was South Auckland mental health worker, Christina Taefu who works for Framework.

Winning the Maori Future Leader award was Turaukawa Bartlett. He is a whanau support worker for Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki – a rural Iwi-based health and wellness service looking after the Hauraki.

The two winning Careerforce apprentices were selected from 80 trainees who were in the running. As part of the combined Industry Training Organisations, Got A Trade campaign, the awards recognise and celebrate New Zealand’s ‘bright young things’.

“I’m really honoured, grateful and excited,” Christina said immediately after receiving the top accolade. “To me this is all about education. Doing my apprenticeship means I provide a better service and I find better ways of doing my work. I love my study as it aligns with my work, with my morals and my values.”

Turaukawa also says education is the key. “Winning this award is just the beginning for me – it’s a stepping stone for my whānau, for my people and all the people of New Zealand.

“In our work you go on feelings, but your feelings may not be right. So through this training you get to base your feelings off something you know. It (the apprenticeship) professionalises the standard in our industry. I’m just overwhelmed to have received this award.”

The winners were selected by a cross sector judging panel including Industry Training Federation chief executive Josh Williams, who says Christina’s entry was a stand-out winner.

“Our judging criteria looked carefully at how the nominees had overcome any hardship in their lives, their attitude to workplace training, and their leadership ability and how they showed commitment to their communities.

“We agreed unanimously that Ms Taefu stood out. She is clearly a future business leader in the education and mental health sectors. Through her community service and commitment to helping others, she is the embodiment of someone who has the passion and the ability to make a difference,” Josh added.

Careerforce had nine trainees entered in the awards. While seven did not walk away with a recognised prize, all are inspiring role models and inspirational ambassadors for those working in or wanting to work in the health and wellbeing sectors.

 Nominated by Careerforce to participate:

  • Christina Taefu – mental health and addiction support. Winner: Female Future Leader and Overall Future Leader.
  • Turaukawa Bartlett – Kaupapa Māori health. Winner: Future Māori Leader
  • Daniell Simpson – Youth work
  • Lou Hardy – Disability support
  • Maria Bria – Community services in disability support
  • Rebekkah Marquet – Cleaning
  • Vinesh Govind – Mental health and intellectual disability community support
  • Wendy Biddle – Community support – disability
  • Marie Borell – Residential care

Meet Christina Winner: Female Future Leader and Overall Future Leader

20160805_Got a Trade_Christina Taefu_013 cropped“In my role I develop and facilitate personal development programmes that empower those who experience a mental illness to develop their natural strengths and capabilities. I love helping people heal and grow to build a life worth living.  I also work outside of the Framework Trust creating exercise, wellbeing and health programmes in the community.   It’s my dream to make a positive impact in the mental health sector of our Pasifika people.

“Throughout my teenage years I struggled with depression and anxiety. However the desperation and despair that I experienced later turned to hope and recovery and ignited my passion to be a mental health ambassador. This turning point in my life left me with an incredible amount of emotional awareness and I began to deeply understand what I wanted to do with my life in terms of a career.

I went back to study and became a qualified fitness instructor and personal trainer and I started teaching zumba in the community. I also became a model and a beauty queen -winning the title of Miss Samoa NZ (2015).

I am very passionate about health and wellbeing. I absolutely love my job in mental health. In my role I develop and facilitate personal development programmes that empower those who experience a mental illness to develop their natural strengths and capabilities.

“I wish people had a greater awareness of mental health, that it is not a scary thing. It is okay to ask for help, and it is actually very important to support people facing mental illness. People heal through compassion and love.”

Christina facilitates a personal finance course that her economist partner helped her create. She emphasises the strengths model, where the focus is on people’s innate strength and building people’s confidence to look good and feel good. She also co-hosts Te Ama Health, a radio show that airs weekly on Planet FM. She has also developed a programme to help educate the Pasifika community about obesity. She also volunteered to become one of the faces for the ‘It’s not OK’ family violence campaign.

Visit the Got A Trade website to learn more about Christina.

Meet Turaukawa – Winner: Future Māori Leader

Turaukawa croppedPassionate about supporting Māori people, Turaukawa sees education as the key to breaking socially constructed discourses.

“I don’t see my role as a job, but as a calling and pre-determined pathway to make a difference for my whānau, hapu and iwi. I hunger for education and seek challenges to summon self-improvement. I endeavour to be an agent of social change and break the cyclonic nature of oppression placed on my people and wider community.

This training has equipped me with the essential skills to ensure all whānau receive the best care possible whilst empowering them to make positive changes in their lives. My role allows me to walk alongside those who are in most need and ensure they never feel uncomfortable asking for or receiving support that they deserve.

What makes me different is the fact that I have a personal attachment and connection to my chosen career path. After my son’s diagnosis of severe autism my whānau and I went through hell without having anybody to support us. This experience enables me to understand the difficulties and challenges that whānau may experience in my chosen field of mental health. I endeavour to empower people through communication that builds on their confidence.”