Te Arawa 500 review highlights scholarship’s success

July 20, 2021

Te Arawa 500 review highlights scholarship’s success

For 10 years, the Te Arawa 500 scholarship has helped hundreds of our rangatahi pursue higher education.

Established in 2010, the scholarship was open to Te Arawa descendants with the aim of getting 500 Te Arawa people into skilled employment by 2020.

Last year, the scholarship’s tenure came to an end and Te Kotahitanga O Te Arawa Waka Trust undertook a review of its success for our whānau.

These results show the 10 year period has had a positive impact on our people, with 80 per cent of scholarship recipients now in skilled employment relevant to their qualifications.

Science, Medicine and Arts were the most commonly studied subjects among scholarship recipients and by its end, close to $600,000 in funding was allocated.

All successful scholarship recipients whakapapa to one or more of the 11 constituent iwi on our Trust board.

Trust Chairman Roku Mihinui says although the scholarship didn’t cover the full expense of each student’s study fees, “we are thrilled we were able to ease the financial burden that comes with studying”.

“Looking ahead, the Trust is considering the ways it can continue to support our rangatahi to succeed in their studies. As part of this, we are in the process of setting up an education foundation to best serve our whānau.”

Te Arawa 500 scholarship more than just financial support for recipients

For Haukapuanui Vercoe, the Te Arawa 500 scholarship offered more than just financial support – it brought Te Arawa rangatahi together in a shared goal of accessing tertiary education.

Haukapuanui (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Tahu, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāi Tahu, Te Āti Haunui-ā-Pāpārangi, Tūwharetoa) was just one of the successful scholarship applicants and says it has helped ease the financial burden of living in Auckland while he studies.

A “numbers man”, Haukapuanui is completing his final year (Honours) of a Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The University of Auckland and has his eyes set on gaining his Doctorate.

“At school I always enjoyed maths and as I got older, I started studying physics. Engineering is a combination of the two so, for me, it was an obvious choice.

“When I finish studying, I want to get some solid experience under my belt, hopefully overseas, and then return so I can use my skills to give back to my iwi.”

Haukapuanui says he heard about the scholarship by word of mouth and has found its benefits extend far beyond the financial support.

“The compulsory wānanga we attended was really valuable. It brought together like-minded rangatahi and gave us a chance to connect and share in our experiences.

“I think what Te Arawa Fisheries has done with this scholarship is what our ancestors would have wanted.

“They saw education as a way forward and the Te Arawa 500 scholarship has helped forge that path for many.

“Māori are underrepresented in tertiary education so scholarships like this are helping to rejuvenate Māori in Pākehā spaces.”

Whānau and iwi at heart of Te Arawa graduate’s desire to study

Passion for her iwi was the driving force behind Rangitangia Jones’ decision to pursue tertiary study.

Rangitangia (Te Arawa, Tūwharetoa, Pare Hauraki/Pare Waikato, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Apa) says the Te Arawa 500 scholarship supported her through a Business Management degree, majoring in Accounting, at Waikato University.

Like Haukapuanui, Rangitangia says the wānanga was a real highlight for her.

“Financially, the scholarship has helped me a lot, but it was also great to meet people at the wānanga from around the rohe.

“We also had a celebration ceremony where we got a certificate. That recognition and hearing my qualification read out loud was a really proud moment for me and was a reminder of why I worked so hard to gain my qualification.”

She says her passion for her iwi is what made her want to study.

“I was raised at marae and one day my koro said, ‘I need an accountant’ and I told him I would do it. I have a passion for my iwi and that’s what made me do it.”

It was also at her marae Rangitangia first heard about the Te Arawa 500 scholarship.

“Matua Ron Roberts  said I should apply for it and encouraged me to do it.”

After graduating in 2019, Rangitangia had a gap year and is now working at Te Tumu Paeroa as a graduate (Taupae Pia) – her current placement is in the finance team.

“I really appreciated getting the scholarship, it helped me a lot and I’m grateful for the experience and what it has led me to.

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