Mātauranga woven into STEM education and workplaces for rangatahi

By Stefan Dimitrof

Less than two per cent of the scientific workforce is made up of Māori workers and secondary education data is showing Māori and Pacific youth are more likely to be streamed out of science education early on in their schooling.

But now Māori and Pasifika STEM Learners (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are getting a helping hand from a programme that addresses inequitable access to STEM learning.

And the Pūhoro Stemm Academy won the supreme award at the 2022 Diversity Awards NZ in Auckland on Wednesday.

The academy was also the small to medium organisation winner in the Ngā Āhuatanga O Te Tiriti category.

Pūhoro Stemm Academy founder and chief executive Naomi Manu said that the academy was quite shocked to be recognised among other organisations doing great work.

“It was absolutely wonderful.”

Manu said Pūhoro was a coordination function between rangatahi and iwi organisations, tertiary education and industry organisations across the science and technology continuum from secondary school through to employment.

Access to STEM subjects

She said Pūhoro disrupted the flow of Māori students diverted away from STEM subjects, making sure they still had access to STEM education.

Manu argued that if rangatahi were not given equitable access to STEM education, then the opportunities for high-skill employment for them would be dire.

She said the extra M in the Pūhoro STEMM Academy stood for being the addition of mātauranga and that it was a part of STEM.

“Mātauranga is woven throughout the kaupapa to ensure it’s culturally anchored in our identity and plays a significant role in our success."

The academy worked closely with iwi and hapū to understand the local application of mātauranga through pūrākau and contemporary application.

Manu said rangatahi would have access to the Pūhoro network of over 140 STEM organisations.

“These are organisations that work closely with Pūhoro, whichare committed to providing culturally safe environments for rangatahi as they move into the workforce”.