After an accident earlier last year, Max’s health continued to slowly deteriorate until she was hospitalized during the second semester. Around the same time, her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
“I went into crisis and was in hospital for a month,” she said. “But the collaborative networks and systems in place at Te Pūkenga NMIT enabled me to complete my last semester.”
Max said the collective team at Te Pūkenga NMIT, including SANITI, Learner Services, Te Puna Manaaki, curriculum tutors and her cohort, went above and beyond, ensuring she would not have to repeat her classes next year and that her wellbeing and safety were supported.
“There was a wrap-around hug from these services that held me up. Someone was physically with me, helping me every day in the hospital with typing, writing, and with counselling sessions and zoom calls when I needed them,” she said.
"I kept asking, ‘are you sure you can do this?’ It was just next level. The systems were there, and they were implemented well, with manākitanga,” Max said.
“There was no shame, no judgement and no hesitation to provide the support I needed.”
Max has just completed her first year of a Bachelor of Social Work and is on her whakapapa journey, studying te reo. She says her studies have been uplifting and empowering.
“Although I am just a first year, the culture at Te Pūkenga NMIT doesn’t recognise any student as being more worthy than others,” Max said.
“There is no ‘just’ anyone. Everyone is important here. We appreciate that you’re present; we see you, we hear you, we hold you,” she said.
Max thought it was a no-brainer to step up for the student president role, wanting to be a part of an empowering student voice. She has found the opportunity to be a part of the evolution of Te Pūkenga to be both fun and extraordinarily powerful and is grateful to be able to give back what she can.
“There is so much cool stuff going on. I get to be more connected, and it is 100 per cent ākonga led.”
Her experience with the support systems available has given Max faith that the Te Pūkenga ideology of creating an inclusive and supportive environment for anyone to be able to study and get ahead is possible.
“I want everyone to know that here at the Nelson Campus, we’ve nailed it.”