Sam is committed to advancing equitable health and education outcomes for Māori students and their whānau. Sam is passionate about transforming the health workforce to serve better and reflect Māori. As a proud māmā and partner, she is dedicated to leaving a legacy for a better Aotearoa and our mokopuna.
Sam is the Co-Director and Manager of the Māori Health Workforce Development Unit (MHWDU) at the University of Otago. Working upon the foundations built by Zoe Bristowe and Jo Baxter (Co-Director), the MHWDU is championing Māori health workforce development and supporting Māori into and through health and health professional study.
The current MHWDU team, Sam Feeney, Ana Rangi, Paige Walker, Paretao Tipoki-Hansen, Griffin Leonard, and Marie Scott, are a transformative force, working tirelessly to increase Māori recruitment, retention, and achievement in health sciences at the University of Otago. Ultimately, they aim to significantly grow the number of qualified Māori health professionals throughout Aotearoa.
At its core, the MHWDU is about equity and building a health workforce that reflects and is responsive to Māori whānau, iwi and individuals. Since its inception, the MHWDU has achieved remarkable results. Māori student enrolment in Otago's eight health professional programmes has increased by over 220%, exemplifying the transformative impact of tailored programmes in unlocking opportunities and promoting equitable health outcomes for all.
The MHWDU team designs and delivers programs designed to support and tautoko Māori students so they have access and support within the health-related study. These programmes include:
Te Ara Hauora: A programme that engages secondary school students and communities, supporting rangatahi Māori access and insights into health-related studies.
Tū Kahika: A tertiary transition scholarship programme that opens doors for young Māori students to access tertiary education.
Te Whakapuawai: An intensive support programme grounded in Māori values, empowering Māori students navigating the Health Science First Year course in preparation for clinical health study.
Tu Tauira Hauora: Providing academic, professional, and cultural development support to Māori students pursuing health sciences degrees, guiding them to degree completion.
Sam has also played a pivotal role in educating the next generation, working alongside the Kōhatu team at the University of Otago, teaching, facilitating, and designing a curriculum that teaches Hauora Māori across the Dunedin School of Medicine and various health sciences degrees. Her teaching equips students and health professionals to be more responsive to whānau and make a meaningful impact in serving Māori communities.
Beyond her professional roles, Sam enjoys spending time with her whānau, cherishing moments she shares with them and loved ones outside of work, reinforcing her commitment to fostering a nurturing and culturally rich environment for her whānau.