Ngahuia Kirton

Welfare

I’m Nga, a second-year vet student and your Welfare Executive for 2019. You might also recognize me as the student-elected member on the University Council. If I’m not in the office, you’ll find me sinking a bevvie, hanging out at hot yoga, learning te reo, or crying on my notes which I’ve finally learned to laminate.

My role on the Exec is to push for your welfare as students and make sure MUSA and Massey are providing you with a safe and supportive environment to study, work, live, and have a good time. That might be through committee work, supporting campaigns like Thursdays in Black, or bringing you dogs via Stress-Free Study Week.

If you’re having an awesome time, having a shit time, have some great ideas to share or just want to know my hot tips for passing first-year physics, I’m here for you. Come on up and say hi, stop me on campus, or send me an angry DM on Insta.

The Welfare Role

Leading on representation and liaising with the University, on matters relating to student wellbeing lie at the centre of my role as Welfare Executive. I coordinate and lead campaigns in relation to welfare, including student safety, holistic wellbeing or hauora, and inclusion.

The Must-Knows

I am paid an honorarium of $8,580 per year, which is paid fortnightly from the start of Semester 1.

The Welfare Executive is expected to work for a minimum of 10 hours per week, starting in Week Zero, the week before lectures start. There is an office space for the Executive in the building above the MUSA shop, and the Executive members are expected to spend some time here each week for students to drop in.

The MUSA Executive is expected to regularly volunteer at events, especially during busy times of the year like O-Week, Stress Free Study Week, and the Arts and Cultures Festival.

After the elections, the Welfare role officially begins on the 1st December and finishes on the 1st December the next year.

Before December, the Executive go through the handover period with their outgoing counterparts, where they come along to meetings, get to know the staff and important people in the community, and learn how to do the job. During this time, the whole Executive also undergo some governance training, and get to spend time getting to know each other and building relationships between themselves and the new Manawatahi (Māori Students Association) Executive.

What I Do

Every month, the Executive meet for a couple of hours for a Governance meeting. We are in charge of making sure that MUSA is running the way it should and doing the right things for students.

In these meetings, we look at the finances of MUSA (how much money we have made and spent), talk about issues and big events that might be happening, make sure that our staff are looked after and doing their jobs, and make ourselves accountable by reporting on our activities each month.

Massey University also have a lot of committees or meetings that make important decisions. A lot of these affect students, so the Executive sit on the committees to make sure that a student perspective is being considered in the process. A few examples of committees you might sit on are:

  • Student Building Levy Committee (deciding on projects for students to use and hang out in)
  • Health and Safety Committee (making sure our campus is safe for the people who use it)
  • Recreation Governance Committee (ensuring the rec centre on campus is appropriate and useful for everyone who uses the facilities)

These committees meet between 4 and 6 times a year usually, and last for about an hour each. They are a really important part of our role, because students need to have a voice in the decisions that might affect them.

Often, decisions might be made that have an impact on students - positive or negative. They might be made by the University, by the local Council, or even by the Government. As the Welfare Executive, I write submissions to these bodies on any changes in laws, regulations or the way things work to make sure that students have a voice. For example, I wrote a submission on the Residential Tenancies Act reform by the Government, and another one on bus times to the Horizons Regional Council.

My favourite part about being the Welfare Executive is getting to meet and talk to so many students! As part of my job as a representative of students, I try to get out onto Concourse or into classes and the library to chat with students about their welfare. I get a lot of great feedback and ideas for stuff I can do in the future when I talk with students, and it also gives me the chance to link them up with support services like our Advocate if they’re having a tough time.

There are other great perks to being a part of the Executive, like having a warm office to hang out in, and being a part of some awesome events - with free food and drinks!

Managing Study and Work

As a full-time vet student, I have to be really careful to balance my study with my role as Welfare Executive. At MUSA, we understand that study always comes first, because you are here at University to learn and be a student. That means that during exam times or placements, I might take some time off. That’s totally okay!

During normal times in the semester, depending on my timetable for the day, I might come in to uni in the morning and spend some time in the office before classes start, or stay for the afternoon if I have nothing on. Sometimes, I have a break in the middle of the day, which is great for coming up to do some work and also having some lunch.

Because we’re expected to volunteer at events, and a lot of our events are in the evening, that’s usually a really easy way to fit in some extra hours and often get some free dinner. Things like emails, phone calls and reading or writing notes for meetings count towards our hours as well, and can often be done at home if you don’t feel like coming onto campus that day. I do try and spend a few hours a week in the office though, in case students want to talk to me.

If you have any questions about being the Welfare Executive, you can send me an email at execwelfare@musa.org.nz and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!