University of Auckland Māori graduates celebrate achievements

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

A special day for Auckland University's Māori graduates where the Institution recognises and celebrates the achievements of their Māori students. Over 40 of them from a wide range of topics, qualifying with Degrees and Diplomas to Masters and Doctorates.

Under the meeting house of Tāne-nui-ā-rangi, this 31-year-old mum receives her PhD in Chemistry.

Her Uncle, Russell Tamatea who affiliates Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahungungu says, “I have nothing but praise for her hard and tireless work, and passion, with the support of our Creator, of her ancestors, family and grand children alike.”

It's been nine and a half years of study, however, she acknowledges that her success was achieved with the support of others.

“I wouldn't have been able to do it without my whānau.  Especially my mum and dad, who held my hand through the whole thing.  And the rest of my whānau who gave me the ego boosts when I needed it,” says Phd graduate Leonie Jones.

Today is the biggest event on the University of Auckland Māori Students Association calendar, to celebrate the graduates and their families.

University of Auckland Māori studies lecturer Hone Sadler says, “This is different to the capping ceremony done by the mainstream university.  Today, we acknowledge their families, their colleagues and supporters who have helped them.”

10 other graduates received their master’s degree and 32 received their degrees.

Proud father of one of today's graduates, Bernard Te Paa says, “Every time we see negative things about Māori on our screens.  This is about lifting our profile before the eyes of the nation.”

Leonie will soon begin research to help the restore the Waikato River to its former pristine condition.