More local rangatahi will gain tertiary scholarships and bring their expertise back to the region, as Rua Bioscience expands its highly successful Impact Programme in 2024. This is being underpinned by $85,000 in co-funding from Trust Tairāwhiti.

Rua is a pioneering medicinal cannabis company founded in Ruatorea. Their Impact Programme embraces a holistic approach to community development, education and healthcare.

Inspiring and empowering the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs is a key focus.

Since 2020, when the programme was launched, 39 rangatahi have been awarded scholarships to pursue higher education, with a specific emphasis on health sciences. The programme offers students a range of mentorships and internships, along with visits to Rua’s genetics centre of excellence, industry partners and universities.

The Trust’s funding is also helping Rua to expand their Compassionate Access Programme. This shares the benefits of medicinal cannabis with those in Te Tairāwhiti who have a clinical need but are facing economic challenges. Rua can now move to extend the Compassionate Access Programme from 30 local patients a month to 60, giving them access to fully subsidised medicinal cannabis products.

“We are very appreciative of the distribution from Trust Tairāwhiti,” said Rua Chief Executive Paul Naske. “Alongside our own investment and support from other partners, it will enable us to further grow the programme’s scope, scale and reach.”

Trust Tairāwhiti General Manager Communities Audine Grace-Kutia said that the programme delivers demonstrable results and measurable value.

“The Trust has been a supporter of Rua’s Impact Programme since it began, and it’s exciting to see so many rangatahi motivated to pursue tertiary education. The ultimate aim is to see them return home and help drive sustainable social and economic impacts for the communities of Tairāwhiti.

“The Compassionate Access Programme is a unique approach to enhancing health and promoting wellbeing.

“This initiative strongly aligns with two of the Trust’s key strategic focus areas: fostering innovation and future skills development, and enabling communities to lead and determine their pathways to he tohu ora.”