Denver Ruwhiu is in her final year of medical school at Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtākou, the University of Otago. She chose to work towards a career in medicine due to her passion, "knowing that on people's worst days, [she] will be able to help in a meaningful way."
A medical career is always unpredictable, but Denver experienced this first-hand when Cyclone Gabrielle hit during her medicine placement at Hawke's Bay Memorial Hospital. Using her recently acquired skills, she helped admit displaced or injured patients in the flooding. She said the Trainee Intern experience was different from previous years where, as a student, she sometimes felt like a burden on the team. She felt privileged to be able to help within the hospital and the wider community.
In the days after the cyclone, her favourite place to go was the local marae. Many people lost their homes and livelihoods, so the marae offered a safe haven, community centre, and refuge. She said she was very proud to be part of a community and culture that knows how to look after each other.
Denver is now in her final elective placement in the Gisborne Emergency Department and continues to connect with the community through the shared experience of the cyclone. In addition to her studies, Denver sits on the Te Oranga Aotearoa Māori Medical Students' Association 2023 and the New Zealand Medical Student’ Association’s new Steering Committee 2023.
As an aspiring Māori health practitioner, Denver is on the path to becoming a future Māori health leader.