His dad’s a Mongrel Mob member, he is a doctor


Growing-up around the gang – his father and several uncles were members – was a “normal” part of his childhood says Jordan Tewhaiti-Smith (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Puhi).

He was one of 39 Māori medical graduands who took part in a pre-graduation ceremony last Friday at the University of Otago.

He is about to start work as a doctor at Christchurch Hospital.

“Just because my dad’s a Mongrel Mob member and I’m Māori doesn’t mean I can’t do anything like the rest of the population.”
He says he was raised quite well by his parents and they put us first.

“It wasn’t forced on me but it was expected that I take it [education] seriously.”

Tewhaiti-Smith has spent the last six years studying towards a bachelor of medicine and a bachelor of surgery at the University of Otago School of Medicine. The course had been “bloody hard”.

His parents had been his biggest supporters, along with his wider whānau and he was a firm believer that “not one person raises a child, it is a village”.

During his studies, he had been called a “dumb Māori” and encountered accusations of preferential treatment.

The negative interactions only inspired him to say “well, I’ll show you”.

“I flipped it and used it as my motivation.”

Tewhaiti-Smith’s used his family’s gang connections for a ground-breaking new study on the health of the Mongrel Mob.

Dozens of Mongrel Mob members, affiliates and extended family were assessed on the health of their liver by a group of Otago University researchers that included Jordan.

The study included 52 Mongrel Mob Notorious gang members from Dunedin, Lower Hutt and Turangi.

It found New Zealand’s largest gang’s high incarceration rate, common intravenous drug use, and uncertified tattooing put them at a higher risk of contracting Hepatitis C.

Just eight Māori doctors graduated in 1999, while this year there are 38 provisional graduands.

“I want to change the outlook that Māori have within the health system in New Zealand,” he said.

“As a clinician … that’s where I can make a difference. That’s why I wanted to be a doctor.”


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