Pacific doctor awarded rural health medal

Thursday, September 15th, 2022 | claly44p | 1 Comment

A Pacific doctor and Otago postgraduate student based in the Cook Islands, has been awarded the Dr Amjad Hamid Medal at the 2022 National Rural Health Conference held in Christchurch this month.

Dr Ruonamakin Rui Mafi (known as Dr Makin), who is practising medicine in the Cook Islands, says, “I’m so honoured to receive this award and for having been given the opportunity to study at the University of Otago by the Cook Islands Ministry of Health (Te Marae Ora).”

Dr Makin completed all her Otago study while based in the Cook Islands.

The Dr Amjad Hamid Medal is awarded to the student who achieves the highest grade in the University of Otago’s Cardiorespiratory Medicine in Rural Hospitals postgraduate paper.

The medal honours the memory of Dr Hamid, who was tragically killed in the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks. It is awarded by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ Division of Rural Hospital Medicine.

Dr Makin was born, raised and schooled in Kiribati and did her medical training at Fiji National University. During her internship she met her (now) husband, Dr Vakaola Mafi from Tonga, at Lautoka Hospital in Fiji. After her internship, Dr Makin worked in the ophthalmology department at Lautoka Hospital. In 2013, the couple decided to move with their young family to the Cook Islands to work and explore opportunities. In the Cook Islands, Dr Makin worked in a range of areas, including emergency and medical wards and obstetrics/gynaecology. She is currently working in primary care, emergency care and medical ward work when required, and also doing some work for the Cook Island Family Welfare Association.

The Cook Islands GP training programme, which includes University of Otago distance taught rural papers as the academic component, was established in 2016. Dr Makin started the rural programme papers in 2019 and has completed the Postgraduate Certificate (Rural and Provincial Hospital Practice). She is now undertaking her third paper (Medical Specialties) and is aiming to complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Rural and Provincial Hospital Medicine. Her ultimate goal is to combine clinical work and research.

Dr Makin says, “Further study has enhanced my clinical knowledge and skills in order to improve the management of our people in the Cook Islands, as well as the wider Pacific community…. A huge thank you to the University of Otago staff, my colleagues and family for their support.”

University of Otago Associate Dean Pacific (Christchurch) Dr Kiki Maoate says, “I congratulate Dr Makin on this wonderful achievement. It is also a great achievement for all the partners in the programme, in particular the Cook Islands Ministry of Health, and for Dr Makin’s family, for all their support….Juggling postgraduate study, especially distance learning, while working as a doctor can be demanding, but hopefully Dr Makin’s success will encourage other Pacific doctors to take this step.”

Note: Dr Makin’s husband, Dr Mafi, was the first Pacific Island-based doctor to be awarded the University of Otago’s Postgraduate Diploma in Rural and Provincial Hospital Medicine. See earlier story

Kōrero by Andrea Jones

Good rural hospital 2017

Thursday, June 13th, 2019 | Rory | No Comments

The Qualities of a good rural hospital. A NZ 2017 perspective.

“A rural hospital can be compared to a ketei – whereby like the flax strands, culture, ideology and values are interwoven with systems, workforce, facilities, social and geographical context to become a purposeful provider of rural health care.”

The rural hospital kete: Ruth Upsdell 2017

In 2002 students and faculty of Otago University’s postgraduate rural programme, (then in the Department of General Practice and Rural Health, Dunedin School of Medicine), wrote a document titled ‘The Good Rural Hospital’ which has since been core reading for the paper GENA724: ‘The Context of Rural Hospital Medicine’. The intent in writing this 2017 document was to update the original document given the intervening period of 15 years.

This document was written by the 2017 students and faculty of GENA724 ‘The Context of Rural Hospital Medicine’ paper (now part of the post-graduate rural programme, Department of the Dean, Dunedin School of Medicine) with input from the wider post graduate rural programme faculty.

This is an aspirational document describing the specific role of the hospital as one part of wider rural health services. While recognising that there is and needs to be a wide variation of rural hospitals in New Zealand the document’s focus is on commonalities that define rural hospital practice.

The document (like the 2002 version) is written by doctors and as such represents a significant bias towards the views of the medical team. We acknowledge that other members of the rural hospital team and the community may have a significantly different, but equally important, view of the place of the rural hospital.

Students and faculty of Rural Postgraduate Programme, University of Otago. The Good Rural Hospital: New Zealand 2017 Edition 1. 2017 accessed from:

Link to The Good Rural Hospital 2017 e1 full text document


Contributions by:

Sue Todd

Ruth Upsdell

Justin Venable

Rory Kennelly

Arwen Bakker

Amanda van Zyl

Jack Haywood

Christina Jenkins

Katherine Orme

Chloe Horner

Rory Miller

Navin Sivalingam

Mafi Vakaola

Isaac Campbell

Katie Smith

Gillian Twinem

Simeon Intal

Garry Nixon

Katharina Blattner

Yan Wong

Mark Smith

Marc Gutenstein

Sampsa Kiuru

Peter Kyriadkoudis

Nina Stupple

Emma Davey

Steve Withington

Trevor Lloyd

Jeremy Webber

Martyn Williamson

Joel Pirini


Nigel Cane