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“Take your shot at scholarship success” – Canterbury students

15 June 2023

When three Christchurch friends found out they’d been awarded the same full-fee scholarship to study at university they called everyone they knew to share the news.


Caoimhe Hungerford, Leonie Jansen van Rensburg, and Iy Froom, are encouraging senior students at their former high school to apply for the University of Canterbury’s Te Kakau a Māui scholarships.

Now they’ve visited their old school to tell other students why they should apply for Te Kakau a Māui scholarships at Te Whare Wananga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC).   

Caoimhe Hungerford, Leonie Jansen van Rensburg, and Iy Froom, all age 18, are some of a handful of students from their year group at Haeata Community Campus, Wainoni, to come and study at UC.

Moving from a familiar school to the busy Ilam campus has been a big step, but they’ve had support from each other and from the Te Kakau a Māui Scholarship programme, which UC created to boost equity and mark its 150th anniversary year – 2023.

SDG 4 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education

The trio have been close friends for the last three years and were thrilled to find out last year their scholarship applications had been successful. Iy was the first to get the news, texting her friends: “Girls, it’s happened! Check your emails.”

Caoimhe, who is a first-year Bachelor of Digital Screen with Honours student, says they’d been worried that one of them might miss out, so it was fantastic to discover they’d all been accepted. 

The scholarship has meant she only has two part-time jobs, including teaching dance to children – without the scholarship, she would have needed to work more.

“My mum is on her own as a solo parent. Having the scholarship means it’s much less stress on my family,” Caoimhe says. “I really enjoy making and editing videos, but I’m not sure yet specifically what I want to do when I finish my degree.”

Applications open on June 20 for another 150 Te Kakau a Māui scholarship places next year for eligible students from South Island high schools previously classed decile 1 to 7 (now covered by the equity index).

Iy, Leonie and Caoimhe returned to Haeata Community Campus this week, on a UC-organised visit to talk to senior students and encourage them to apply. 

“It’s cool because we can show people that there are other opportunities out there,” Caoimhe says. “I want to let them know that it’s like that saying: ‘You miss all the shots that you don’t take’.”

Leonie, a keen netball player who is studying towards a Bachelor of Sport Coaching, says students considering applying shouldn’t be put off by doubts about their academic ability, (although University Entrance is required).

“If people think they’re not smart enough or not doing well enough at school, just make sure you apply because it’s not about that. You’ll lose nothing by going for it.”

Leonie says the scholarship recognises potential to make a difference and lead change and she and her friends were involved in leadership roles, mentoring, and working in their communities during high school. “We’re all pretty well-rounded.”

Caoimhe says she likes the open-minded approach of the scholarship. “I think it focuses not so much on what you have done, but what you would do with this opportunity.”

Te Kakau a Māui scholars – 164 students this year – are offered career advice, one-to-one mentoring from a UC graduate, and help from UC Student Success Coach Angus Howat, as part of the program

Iy, who aims to become a primary school teacher, says it’s great the scholars have dedicated access to Howat who always makes time and offers encouragement. “You can just say, ‘Hey, can we catch up?’ It’s pretty cool that you have that backup and someone there to chat to.”

She has always wanted to work with children and teaching is her dream job. She says the scholarship has helped her settle into university and make friends because Te Kakau a Māui scholars are placed into social hubs called homebases. 

UC Acting Executive Dean of Education Professor Misty Sato says Te Kakau a Māui scholarships can change lives. “The programme is unique because we are offering mentoring, support and career-coaching to our successful scholars, in addition to covering tuition fees for a degree.”

It is also innovative, she says, because it’s encouraging a wider group of students to see university as a pathway towards their goals.

“We’re looking beyond traditional academic performance to find students with a more holistic range of skills. We’re inviting applications from young people around the South Island who want to make a difference, and we want to empower them to achieve their goals.”

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