Faculty of Science - Leading creativity and innovation in the sciences

Spotlight on Pikihuia Pomare

Pikihuia graduated with a BA in Psychology and Māori Studies, an BA(Hons) in Psychology, and with a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology in 2015.

Pikihuia smiling

“I am currently working as a Clinical Psychologist for the Waitemata District Health Board (DHB), with Whitiki Maurea Māori Adult Mental Health and Addictions Service. I have also worked for Counties Manukau DHB in He Kākano a specialist Māori Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service team. I have also worked in a number of teaching, therapist and cultural advisory roles in Education and in Health.

“I work alongside a team of nurses, social workers, psychiatrists and taurawhiri (cultural advisors) in order to support adults facing mental health difficulties. My role involves doing psychological assessments, cognitive assessments and talk therapy with tangata whaiora in our service. A key strength of the service is that we have 10 Taurawhiri (cultural advisors) and a Kaumātua and Kuia. We also run Hōtaka Hauora Groups based at the marae, so tangata whaiora get to experience whanaungatanga and to connect with others in a Māori environment.

“They also learn skills and positive coping strategies to alleviate their mental health difficulties from within our own Māori paradigms of health.

"Prior to working in clinical roles I worked at the University of Auckland, as a lecturer in undergraduate and postgraduate courses and as the Tuakana Programme Coordinator and Māori and Pacific Psychology Postgraduate Research Group.  

"My degree had a strong emphasis on the scientist-practitioner model where we there is a balance of academic research as well as practical experience in clinical psychology.  The work placements and year-long internship in clinical psychology helped me get an idea of working in different areas of mental health and my thesis helped give me a solid grounding in research.

"Another important aspect of my career path has been the interface between mātauranga Māori science and western science. I grew up in Kōhanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Māori so have been brought up with a Māori worldview so being able to understand western science has added to my kete.

"Outside of work my main role is being a mother to three active boys aged 13, 5 and 3. I spend a lot of time with my whānau, my parents and my sisters and their tamariki who live nearby. I also spend a lot of time with my whānau at Te Kōhanga Reo o Te Rongomau and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Maungarongo in central Auckland as my children attend there and parents both work there as well. I feel lucky to have another whanau living in Auckland it’s important to have a space and place for us to be Māori and I feel strongly connected to the kaiako, other parents and tamariki there. I also play touch and netball and spend a lot of time on the sideline at my son’s rugby games. I also enjoy going back up home to the Hokianga to recharge.

“As a student, I was one of the original intake of mentees into the Tuākana programme in Psychology and subsequently became a mentor. During my honours year I co-coordinated the programme with the amazing Dr Erana Cooper. In 2006 she left to complete her PhD so I took over as the coordinator.

“One of the best things about the Psychology Tuākana programme was our room in HSB Kōhanga. It was our haven/ safe space where we would debate hot political topics, share notes on our lab assignments, print out lecture slides, warm up our noodles and have hot cups of milo. It was such a wonderful place to discuss our whakaaro (thoughts) on psychology while we were completing our studies.