Protest over changes to Rōpū Āwhina

By Heta Gardiner

Protests from staff and mentors of Te Rōpū Āwhina programme were heard throughout Victoria University today as there has been some restructuring of the programme and some believe it is an indication that the university is preparing to shut it down.

According to Dean Deputy Liz Richardson of Victoria University, “Our completion rates are much higher than anywhere else outside of SEAD, and not just completion rates at undergrad, but postgrad as well.”

Te Rōpū Āwhina's focus is helping Māori and Pacific students achieve.  Since its induction 16 years ago, they have had 1200 Māori and Pacific graduates in the sciences, including 33 PhDs.

Richardson says, “We think it's really rude that they will be doing stuff like this, when actually we bring money in.”

The Vice-Chancellor didn't want to speak on camera today.  However a statement was provided which said, "The University has no plans to stop supporting or to close Āwhina.  We will be conducting a university-wide review of how Victoria's equity and mentoring initiatives are provided to students."

Māori MP Marama Fox says, “I rung his office, he didn't reply.  He didn't get back to me at all.” 

A petition is being put together to stop the closure of the programme.