Auckland social work students honoured with awards

Associate Professor Mark Henrickson, Te Tohu Iti Kahurangi Award winner Jonathan Selu and Dr Moses Faleolo.

Massey University’s School of Social Work acknowledged three of its top students from the Auckland campus earlier this week at the inaugural Student Social Work Awards.

Jonathan Selu was presented with the Te Tohu Iti Kahurangi Award, which recognises high academic achievement, exemplary field education practice, cultural practice and resolving an ethical or values-related challenge during their study or placement.

Unlike the other two awards, the winner of this accolade is nominated by fellow Auckland campus social work students. Mr Selu, a second-year Master of Applied Social Work student, said he was humbled and grateful to be put forward. “It’s been a tough journey and I am so grateful to have had my classmates around me, my colleagues and also the staff around to help and support me.”

Dr Moses Faleolo presented the award to Mr Selu, saying, “You’re a great leader, respectful, articulate, you ask really powerful questions. It brings me great honour to bestow you with this award. You have been a real role model for us, and may it continue on in your next journey.”

Mr Selu was awarded $500.

The winners of the inaugural Student Social Work Awards Jonathan Selu, Helen Watson and Tsitsi Kavumbura.

Academic Excellence Award

Fourth-year student Helen Watson was awarded the Academic Excellence Award, which recognises academic excellence by a third or fourth-year social work student.

Dr Shirley Jülich presented the award to Ms Watson, and said, “I’ve watched you grow and develop over the past four years, and it’s been stunning to see a young woman like you develop in the way you have, it’s a credit to you, and I wish you well for your future. Congratulations.”

Ms Watson said the journey has been really tough, but “it’s really rewarding to now be in a position where I can put what I have learnt into practice”.

Nominations for this award were sought from Auckland campus social work and social policy staff. Ms Watson was awarded $250.

Social Work Practice Award

Tsitsi Kavumbura was awarded the Social Work Practice Award, in recognition of her high practice standard, competence and her contribution in the field. Current students studying social work on the Auckland campus were eligble for nomiations, which  were sought from field educators, external supervisors, placement agency staff members and service users. Students were also able to self-nominate.

Associate Professor Ksenija Napan presented the $250 award to Ms Kavumbura and said she was born to be a social worker. “Everything that led you here to study the Master of Applied Social Work and becoming a social worker is all really well aligned, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being such an exceptional student.”

Ms Kavumbura said she was grateful to be nominated for the award and didn’t expect to win. “One of the things I struggle with is believing in myself. My field educator was really amazing, and gently pushed me out of my comfort zone, and was really supportive, so I would like to thank her. Winning this award also reminds me that I am in the right profession – it confirms to me I am doing the right thing.”

Associate Professor Mark Henrickson also spoke at the awards ceremony, congratulating the winning students. “Very soon, you will no longer be students. We will call you colleagues and that is a significant change. We will call upon you in the community to continue to mentor future students, to do the work you have learned how to do here, and that’s a major shift for us. So, this is a way for us to not only recognise the work you have done, but inaugurating your new life and your new identities as professionals, which is really exciting."

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