What makes Dr Dawn Ngatokorua’s return to the Cook Islands even more special is the fact that she hails from Mangaia.
Dr Dawn Ngatokorua, a former Tereora College student who left the Cook Islands to study medicine in 1995, has answered the call to return to her home island after spending her career in Auckland and other Pacific Islands.
Mangaia has been without a doctor since 2014 and her appointment has been welcomed by Ivirua MP Agnes Armstrong. She acknowledged Minister of Health Rose Brown and the Ministry of Health for responding to the cry of the “iti-tangata” (community).
“We are very blessed that our doctor is a young Mangaian woman, Dawn Ngatokorua, who has chosen to come back and serve her people,” Armstrong said.
“We cannot thank Dr Ngatokorua enough for wanting to return to her home island to help her people.”
Ngatokorua started her term as the resident doctor on Mangaia last week.
Armstrong said another young Mangaian, Doreen Moe Kapiti who has been studying dentistry, is also due to return to Mangaia soon to provide dental services.
“We are so grateful to these young women for putting their hand up to come back to Mangaia – finally we will have a resident doctor and dentist on the island, long overdue, but such a welcome development.”
She added that the two professionals could have easily chosen to work elsewhere and undoubtedly earn more money.
Doctors in the Cook Islands start on about $50,000 a year, while a resident doctor in New Zealand can expect to earn up to $100,000.
“These young woman, decided to instead come home to Mangaia and we are very appreciative and proud of this,” Armstrong said.
The Ivirua MP is urging the Ministry of Education to reserve at least two scholarships a year for promising Pa Enua students who want to pursue medical studies.
Armstrong said this would provide an ongoing stream of young professionals to work on their home islands upon graduation as part of fulfilling their scholarship bonds.
Training Pa Enua students as doctors and dentists should be seen as a priority, Armstrong said.