Twenty-four Māori secondary school pupils were recently recognised as they graduated from the first phase of the Pūhoro STEM Academy programme.
Having finished their last year of school, many are now enrolling in science, technology, engineering and mathematics qualifications at universities and other tertiary education providers. Pūhoro is a Massey University initiative launched in 2016 to raise the number of Māori studying so-called STEM subjects and in the work force.
The graduation’s keynote speaker, Nicole Edwards, a PhD student at the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland, encouraged the graduates to be proud of who they are and what they represent.
“If you should ever feel small in the face of ignorance, I want you to feel defiance not defeat, I want you to feel pride not fear,” Ms Edwards said. “I want you to remember that you are the product of a long line of ancestors that stretches all the way back through the history of this country. I want you to remember that the bones of your tipuna resonate throughout the land that you walk on, and that their bones are your bones, and you are the product of everything that came before you, everything they fought for, you are their dreams made flesh.”
A whānau affair
The graduates were joined by their whānau and iwi, peers and teachers.
Pūhoro director Naomi Manu was delighted to see another cohort graduate from the first phase of the programme and move onto interesting and varied STEM pathways in 2020.
“This programme is not just about this critical mass of Māori students who have technical capability in STEM, but this is about changing the STEM landscape. It is about a critical mass of young Māori who know exactly who they are as Māori, who know that science is in their DNA. Who know that they come from navigators, who migrated across the pacific ocean in the most sophisticated navigation voyage of all mankind. They are our tipuna.”
Apiata Tipene, a Pūhoro kaihautū (navigator), who has been with the programme since 2017, said that through weekly engagement at schools and at Massey’s campuses in Auckland and Manawatū, Pūhoro has been able to support STEM achievement by Māori. “Today marks a well-deserved celebration of Māori success in STEM, and to watch our Pūhoro students complete Te Urunga Tū, phase one of the programme, has been incredibly rewarding,” Mr Tipene said. “To see my students’ aspirations come to fruition and know that the Pūhoro programme has impacted their lives for the better, is very humbling and I look forward to continuing with them on their next journey as they move into tertiary.”
Sir Mason Durie attended with his whānau to support his graduating grandaughter, Te Reita Durie-Kora (Palmerston North Girls’ High School) said he was proud to attend "an evening that showed rangatahi are becoming increasingly involved in science while retaining their own identities as Māori. Pūhoro has been a powerful catalyst for sowing the seeds of accomplishment in both dimensions."
Māori Education Trust scholarships
Following graduation, the Māori Education Trust announced 20 scholarships for Pūhoro students entering into their first year of tertiary valued at $1500 dollars per scholarship. This will continue to strengthen and support Pūhoro students in phase two (tertiary) and further galvanises the programme’s vision and commitment to support Māori students in tertiary and out into industry.
Manu says they are extremely grateful to the Māori Education Trust for providing scholarships. “These will support our rangatahi as they venture into tertiary. When we recieved the news the Pūhoro team was elated, we continue to express gratitude to our partners for sharing the vision of Pūhoro and helping us make significant impact in the lives of our amazing rangatahi.”
(L-R) Pūhoro intern Mosiah Igatia, Makayla Kahi who will study a Bachelor of Health Science in 2020 at Auckland University. She was the winner of the Aupiki Ake Award for a Pūhoro student who has demonstrated outstanding achievement, and Pūhoro intern Meschka Seifritz.