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Scholarship prepares Māori & Pacific students for life at UC

15 February 2023

Māori and Pacific students taking part in a scholarship programme say it builds friendships and pride in their culture.


Takere scholarship recipients from left to right, Heath Heather (Rarotongan), Taumanu Walker (Whānau-ā-Apanui; Whakatōhea, Ngāi Tūhoe), Manawa Whaanga, (Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahungunu), Sophia Clarke-Walker, (Ngāi Tahu).

Takere is a unique, live-in academy for first-year students at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC). This year, 47 Māori and Pacific students have spent the last five weeks learning study skills and building networks with peers and staff that will help them navigate their journey into tertiary life at UC.

SDG-4-news -2023-uc.jpeg Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality education

The students, who can apply for subsidised accommodation for the year in the Tupuānuku hall of residence, have attended workshops, completed a 15-point 100-level UC course and have been on haerenga (field trips). These included visiting sites of significance to Ngāi Tūāhuriri /Ngāi Tahu and learning about the history of the takiwā (region).

Sophia Clarke-Walker, (Ngāi Tahu), 18, who grew up in Ōtautahi Christchurch, was planning to study outside the city before discovering Takere. “After 18 years I thought it was time to leave, but this programme inspired me to stay.”

“Two past students of Takere spoke at my school, Te Pā o Rākaihautū, and after hearing their stories I knew it was the right choice for me.

“Coming from a small school I was nervous about coming to uni and being in a massive environment with new people, but I’ve had so much support since I got here,” she says.

“I was concerned university would be too westernised but it’s really nice to see UC is slowly implementing more mātauranga Māori because it’s such a huge part of New Zealand in general.”

Sophia, who won the Korimako – Junior English award at last year’s Ngā Manu Kōrero ki Waitaha speech competition, is planning to complete a double degree in Law and Arts.

Heath Heather (Rarotongan), 19, will start his Commerce degree this year, and says the Takere environment has helped him settle into Christchurch. “It’s been a good way to meet new people, especially for me coming from Auckland…in Auckland I didn’t hear many languages other than English.

“In Takere we get to be open and feel pride in our culture, we’re encouraged to express it. Hearing Māori, Samoan, Fijian and Tongan being spoken is so cool.”

Taumanu Walker (Whānau-ā-Apanui; Whakatōhea, Ngāi Tūhoe) 18, went to a kura kaupapa Māori school until Year 8, and later Rotorua Boys’ High School where he was the 2022 Young Achiever for Leadership and Academic Excellence. He plans to study Forestry Science at UC. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Takere scholarship, finances were my biggest barrier to studying,” he says.

“Just knowing everyone here gives you that sense of comfort, especially for me being away from home.”

Manawa Whaanga, (Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahungunu) 18, who will study Engineering, has always been encouraged by her parents to go to university.

“I couldn’t believe I got the Takere scholarship, it was so exciting. It’s hard being away from my family but Takere has helped me integrate easily and build strong connections. It’s also helped me reconnect with the South Island and my Māori culture, I didn’t know much te reo before. "

Verity Tamepo (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Mutunga) Kaiarataki Takere | Takere Lead says whakawhanaungatanga (making meaningful connections) as part of a cohort with other Māori and Pacific students is an important aspect of the programme. “Preparing these students as best we can academically for tertiary study, introducing them to networks of support within UC, providing them with tools, connections and wrap-around support to set them up for success is key to the kaupapa”.

Takere is in its third year at UC, and the first stage of the academy ended last Friday with a celebration ceremony and hākari (feast) that the students’ whānau and caregivers were able to attend.

Ongoing support, mentoring, and workshops will be provided to the students throughout the academic year.

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