Transcript: full interview with Zanazir Alexander

Johnson: Our next inspiring leader says you don't need to be a genius or go to a fancy school to become a doctor. We're here at Middlemore Hospital today to meet a young Māori doctor who shows that with a little hard work, anything is possible.

You've got a pretty interesting name, tell us how did you get it? What's the story behind it? 

Zanazir: Honestly I wish there was a really cool story ay. I, my parents just have really funky imaginations. I actually have a really long name, I think that’s how many kids they wanted.

Johnson: So what’s your full name?

Zanazir: Full name is Zanazir Ezrom Ao Aranui Kenneth Lucien Alexander.

I think I’ve always hated getting up early but there’s no way around that, you’ve got to be on time for work. I think something I love… I love chatting to patients, and seeing them leave in a better condition than when they came in, that’s always really cool. I love it, I love it.

I kind of always looked and saw other people who were doing really well and thought why can’t that be me? That was kind of it, you know? People always, often made up excuses, "they’re so this, they’re so good at this or they’re so that" and I kind of thought to myself if they can do it, then there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do it too.

Johnson: When or how did this idea of medicine come about, and you thought of pursuing this career?

Zanazir: I think I was about 15. I previously hadn’t considered being a doctor up until that age, when one of my friends who was also at Okaihau college, she got into med school, and before that I kind of thought that only the genius kids or the smart kids from the fancy schools were the only ones that got into med school and could become a doctor, but when she got in that was… she’s Māori too which is cool, um when she got in that was kind of what made me think hmm maybe I can actually do this, wow!

That was probably the biggest thing that sort of convinced me that I could give it a crack too.

I think I wish I had’ve known how difficult it would’ve been, I don’t think it would’ve changed anything but it was certainly a shock to the system starting med school. For sure! Because at high school you’d do your homework, or sometimes you’d do your homework, and you’d do it all on the last day before it's due, and when it comes to exams you, well I didn’t prepare that far out from exams, and then coming to uni it’s like study for exams all the time, all year! So had I known that I would’ve come into it a little more prepared?

Probably the biggest challenge was just the sheer volume of work, balancing that with family life because I’m married as well, balancing… you know having time for this and time for family and time for church and time for friends and sport and that kind of thing. So balancing your time is pretty difficult, yeah.

I feel a bit of a… I feel it’s a privilege to be a Māori doctor to start with, and to be kind of like, without being deliberate, a Māori role model for other young Māori kids.

Johnson: Looking ahead to the future, what is next for Doctor Zanazir?

Zanazir: For the next probably, for the next couple of years, I’ll be working most likely at Middlemore Hospital. You know working around the different specialities. Gaining I guess experience, a wide breadth of experience and then from there I’ll choose a speciality that I am particularly interested in and head that direction I think.

Johnson: Is there one you are kind of interested in at the moment?

Zanazir: Yeah there is actually. I quite enjoy orthopaedics, orthopaedic surgery.

Johnson: What’s that? For people like me that have no idea!

Zanazir: So that’s like broken bones. They’re the surgeons that fix your bones up, or if you need a new hip replacement when you’re old and crusty, they’re the ones who put a new one in for you. Yeah so bones and joints doctors.

Johnson: Any particular reason why?

Zanazir: Growing up on the farm you learn a lot of practical skills and you like to use your hands and that kind of thing, and I think I just really enjoyed it, watching the surgeons using hammers, screws and drills and that kind of thing and I just really like it ay.

Johnson: A bit scary to be honest with you…

Zanazir: I am proud to be a Māori doctor, there aren’t a lot out there and I think there aren’t enough!

Updated 12 Sep 2016