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Profession recognises top Ara | Te Pūkenga osteopathy graduate

11 December, 2023

“Emerging Practitioner” award for newly qualified student displaying all-round excellence

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Vaito Asomua wants to use his new skills as an osteopath to make a positive difference to health statistics – particularly for Pasifika people.

It’s a passion he’s expressed as he caps off four years of study at Ara | Te Pūkenga and embarks on his new career at Ōtautahi clinic MK Osteopathy.

“I came into osteopathy not knowing what is was and completely fell in love with it,” he said. “I’m keen to promote it and it felt like I should be a flagbearer and push it all into the spaces where it doesn’t live. Being from a Pasifika background, I really want to see it thrive in those populations too.”

That drive has assisted Asomua to earn a strong endorsement from the professional association, Osteopaths New Zealand (ONZ), who made him their inaugural Emerging Practitioner award recipeint.

ONZ is a professional association run by practitioners. It works to promote and gain recognition for osteopaths within the healthcare sector, developing and maintaining relationships with regulatory and funding bodies, as well as other representative associations both within New Zealand and abroad.

Anj Young, Student Liaison for ONZ said their new emerging practitioner award recognises a new graduate showcasing a “profound commitment to osteopathy, exceptional academic accomplishments and clinical abilities with a high level of patient care”.

“Vaito has consistently upheld the highest standards of professional conduct, demonstrated exemplary interpersonal skills, and exhibited a strong dedication to continuous learning and professional growth,” Young said. “We are delighted to recognise his exemplary efforts.”

Co-Programme leader of the Ara Osteopathy programme, Emma Fairs, said Asomua was chosen from among the top graduates of the year, as nominated by teaching staff within the postgraduate diploma programme.

“Another key strength the award recognises is the recipient's potential to make significant contributions to the osteopathic profession's ongoing evolution and advancement,” she said. “Vaito’s aspirations to see the practice adopted more among our Pacific populations is inspiring.”

It’s something Asomua feels strongly about, saying allied health practitioners such as osteopaths are “an untapped resource”.

“Being so hands on with those seeking help, we can identify issues early and help prevent GP systems getting clogged up. We have the skills to be able to recognise if something needs further attention, act early and improve outcomes,” he said.

Asomua came to osteopathy from a fitness, personal training and massage therapy background, originally thinking he’d like to study physiotherapy.

“I wanted to do stuff with people hands on and when I figured out there wasn’t physiotherapy in Christchurch, I met with Ara tutors and decided osteopathy sounded like something I could get into. I have no regrets - it’s certainly challenged me and got me out of my comfort zone.”

He said he found the close-knit learning environment at Ara very supportive. “It’s personal. The tutors know you, and working among your peers is also valuable. Help is always accessible through learning support too and it’s something I’ve tried to take advantage of. Altogether you don’t feel like you are battling alone.”

“Because we work in a clinic here at Ara you also get to know other staff, students and members of the public who access our services – you get a really good vibe. It’s been great.

Speaking at the end-of-year osteopathy celebration, Young said she was delighted to have presented the emerging practitioner award to such a deserving student.

“The encounters I have had with Vaito have always been uplifting and enlightening. He’s carried himself in such a good mana. I’m stoked to have presented this award to him.”


2023 Osteopathy: Awards list

Year One  

Clinical Excellence – Jamie Gibbs 

High Achievement – Holly Lennox 

Most Improved Student – Ashley Farrell 

Top Academic - Lucy Chung 

Year Two 

Clinical Excellence - Hannah McDougall  

High Achievement – Charlotte Bulow 

Most Improved Students – Nicole Howes and Yimin Liu 

Top Academic – Cole Stacey 

Year Three 

Clinical Excellence – Sarah Hay, Archie Trimmer and Max Robertson  

High Achievement - Justine Guillemenot  

Most Improved Student – Helen Nguyen  

Top Academic – Anna Kivi 

Year Four 

Clinical Excellence – Milly Rowley 

High Achievement – Lauren Crofts 

Most Improved Student – Bailey Rance 

Top Academic – Kaylee Frost 

Osteopaths New Zealand Emerging Osteopathic Practitioner Award – 

Vaito Asomua