Massey Academy joins Āmua Ao programme

High-flying science academy to join growing programme looking to get more Māori into STEM subjects.

Massey University's Pūhoro STEM Academy has become an official partner of the Āmua Ao programme, joining Callaghan Innovation and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), who have been driving the programme since 2015.

The programme is an initiative to raise Māori participation and achievement in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths, collectively known as STEM. It is particularly focused on raising achievement rates for NCEA level 3 STEM subjects, which only 24 per cent of Māori students achieved in 2014, compared to 43 per cent of non-Māori students. 

NZQA Deputy chief executive Māori, Daryn Bean says, “about 180 degrees of possibilities are cut off without STEM’, possibilities are cut off without STEM. The Āmua Ao programme is important to address equity of access in STEM so Māori students are better prepared for a changing workforce,” he says.

After a successful pilot programme of 12 students in 2015, it was expanded to 75 Māori students in 2016, and paused in 2017 in order for the teams to evaluate and fine tune the programme, as well as expand its offerings.

Director of the Pūhoro STEM Academy programme, Naomi Manu says the Āmua Ao programme is a natural fit with Pūhoro.

“We couldn’t be happier to join with this great programme, who are working towards the same kind of goals. Our mission is to grow the Māori science community by working directly with secondary school students and their whānau in a mentoring role and exposing students to the vast opportunities.”

Pūhoro will come on board as the programme looks to run the largest bilingual STEM challenge in the country, involving three one-day science and engineering challenges for around 250 Year 9 and 10 Māori students at each event in Rotorua, Palmerston North and South Auckland, later in the year.

“Through the challenges, students will be able 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 work will be supported by the University of Newcastle in Sydney, and each challenge will include a range of interactive activities that focus on inspiring students to consider a future career in science and technology.

Callaghan Innovation CEO, Vic Crone, says technology disruption means STEM skills will be extremely important for employment in the future. 

“We face a very different future where the demand for STEM skills will outpace traditional skills. Boosting STEM talent among our rangatahi [youth] will help them face the future of work with confidence. STEM itself also has a lot to gain from a unique Māori contribution and it’s fantastic to have Puhoro STEM Academy join our mission.

Massey tutor Paul Stock teaching Academy students about fruit flys.

The wider world

While the 2018 programme will involve hundreds of Māori students domestically, it will also involve around 30 students heading overseas for two international trips.

These trips target Year 12 Māori students in an effort to further engage them in STEM related subjects, support their academic achievement of NCEA level 2 and inspire their involvement in NCEA level 3 STEM related subjects. 

The Academy will work with the programme to shape just what these international experiences will be, including exploring options with software giants and aerospace engineers.

The partnership is over a three-year period until the end of 2020.


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