Pūhoro STEM Academy expands into South Auckland

The Academy's newest members from South Auckland on Massey's Albany campus.

Massey University's Pūhoro STEM Academy has expanded into South Auckland schools, providing more young Māori secondary school students with the chance to experience and pursue careers in science.

The programme aims to raise Māori participation and achievement in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths by engaging with secondary school students from years 11-13. Last year, NCEA pass rates for Pūhoro STEM Academy students surpassed nationwide averages. Participants represent 75 iwi throughout Aotearoa and involved schools from Manawatū, Bay of Plenty and Horowhenua regions.

Now that success is set to spread to the South Auckland, including students from Auckland Girls’ Grammar, Manurewa High School, Alfriston College, Mangere College, Rosehill College, Pukekohe High School, Onewhero Area School and Tuakau College.

Student selection into the programme is based on their desire to join the programme and commitment to undertake the additional requirements including the tutorial/mentoring sessions. Students who are already excelling in science are not chosen; instead those who are on the cusp of success or who need extra help are admitted into the programme.

The South Auckland programme has a strong health workforce focus and is supported by Counties Manukau District Health Board and the Tindall Foundation. It is driven by Pūhoro Navigators, who work within schools to complete a tutorial/mentoring session for one hour each week. Once each term, all participants meet at Massey’s Auckland campus in Albany for an interactive field trip or wānanga, which explores hands on science linked to their NCEA study.

Director of the Pūhoro STEM Academy programme, Naomi Manu says that Counties Manukau DHB and Tindall Foundation resourcing made it possible to expand into South Auckland.

“What we have is a scalable model that increases Māori student engagement and achievement in STEM programmes. This programme has the potential to build a critical mass of Māori scientists who will change the science and technology landscape.

“We want them to experience aspects of science and engineering that they would not usually see in their school environment. We want more Māori students progressing into tertiary education by building a skills pipeline to support the Māori economy,” Ms Manu says.

This Friday’s wānanga will involve year 11 students going into biology labs with Monika Merriman from the Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences to complete DNA extraction of their own cheek cells.

The other session involves Professor Meihana Durie, head of Massey's School of Māori Knowledge, Te Pūtahi-a-Toi, and the school’s academic coordinator Hone Morris who will speak about their learnings from the world of their ancestors and the modern world of Māori, through the medium of Kōrero Pūrākau (story telling).

The programme is funded by Massey University and the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge with support from Te Tumu Paeroa, Callaghan Innovation, Google, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Palmerston North City Council.

Earlier this year Pūhoro become an official partner of the Āmua Ao programme, joining forces to run the largest bilingual STEM challenge in the country, involving three one-day science and engineering challenges involving around 250 year 9 and 10 Māori students at each event being held in South Auckland, Rotorua, and Palmerston North, later this year.

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