Iwi work with Victoria University to lift Māori academic success

By Ani-Oriwia Adds

Victoria University has just signed agreements with 12 iwi or other Māori groups as part of its mission to improve the academic success of Māori. The aim of the agreements is to recruit and graduate more Māori students and strengthen engagement between the university and iwi and other Māori communities.

The Taihonoa Programme is a unique programme that was launched at Te Herenga Waka Maraes 30th birthday Celebrations with 12 Iwi signing agreements with Victoria University.

Victoria University Professor Rawinia Higgins says, “It’s not that the iwi gives over three thousand, or one thousand or ten thousand, the iwi have the right to decide that this is the amount that they want to give for the scholarship, and the university matches the amount that they've given.”

Some of the Iwi that have signed on to the Taihoanoa programme so far are Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi o Ngāpuhi, Maniapoto Māori Trust Board, Ruapuha-Uekaha Hapū Trust, and much more with the aim to grow Māori achievement in a way that meets the needs and objectives of iwi and Māori communities. Scholarship Recipient Elijah Pue says that the scholarship makes it easier for students to study at University.

Scholarship recipient Elijah Pue, “This is something inspiring for the next generation. They can get easily get access to a university to better themselves, as well as their tribe. So for the university, it’s good because they get to teach more Maori students.”

These scholarships can be awarded to students of a particular discipline, or fund student accommodation fees, or be offered to those who are first in their family to attend university. Rawinia says that it's all about enabling more Māori to gain the benefits of tertiary education while meeting the current and future needs of their iwi.

“One of our goals for the university is to raise numbers. What we're trying to do is increase the number of Maori by one thousand,” says Higgins.

Victoria University has committed $250,000 annually to the programme and is actively seeking more iwi and Māori groups to join the scheme.