Pūhoro Academy launches in Northland

By Tumamao Harawira

A university academy promoting young Māori into science celebrated its launch into Northland.

Pūhoro STEMM Academy started at Massey University in Palmerston North in 2016 to increase Māori representation in science, technology, engineering, maths, and mātauranga.

Kemp Reweti, from Pūhoro STEMM Academy, says it's by Māori, for Māori, and the challenges ahead are significant.

"We know that our rangatahi Māori will be able to draw from their own whakapapa and from within themselves, their identity, to help answer some of the challenges we're facing in these times.

"Climate change, globalisation, data sovereignty, kai sovereignty, and so on. So it is crucial for Māori to be able to learn and be educated and improve the knowledge of STEMM."

Pūhoro is providing rangatahi the pathway to many doors of education.

The last two years have seen significant growth for the Pūhoro STEMM Academy, having engaged 1,503 rangatahi in 54 participating schools and kura across nine regions to date.

The expansion into Te Tai Tokerau becomes the 10th region Pūhoro serves, made possible through funding from its critical partners including the Ministry of Education, the Tindall Foundation, and Foundation North, who are invested in seeing positive engagement and outcomes for Māori in STEMM.

Reweti says the programme sees real-world results.

"We know that rangatahi, who are part of the kaupapa, are five times more likely to transition at tertiary level into STEMM. We know as well that whilst they're at high school, they achieve at or above non-Māori national pass rates."

According to Huhana Lyndon, from Te Kahu o Torongare, it's why whānau in Whangārei have been waiting for Pūhoro to come to the North.

"Our children have seen this kaupapa in other regions, so yes, it is just the beginning. Next year it will be implemented in school that is within the boundaries of Te Kahu o Torongare."

Associate Education minister (Mātauranga Māori) Kelvin Davis says the academy has the ability to provide real change for students in Whangārei, where Pūhoro is being launched.

“The Pūhoro way is a by Māori, for Māori way. Its expansion into Te Tai Tokerau is a significant milestone for a kaupapa Māori approach that seeks to improve equitable access for rangatahi Māori into science and technology-related pathways.

"This also fits with this Government’s approach to Māori education, as set out in Ka Hikitia – Ka Hāpaitia, the Māori Education Strategy.”