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Source: University of Canterbury

10 February 2021

A sense of belonging, resilience and self-reliance are some of the benefits gained by a group of Māori and Pacific students through an inaugural live-in scholarship programme at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC).

  • Favor Leavasa, Solomon Davis and Kisania Shingleton are taking part in the University of Canterbury’s new Takere programme for Māori and Pacific students.

Takere is focused on first-year Māori and Pacific students enrolled at UC in 2021. The programme provides a support crew of Tuākana (student mentors) and staff to help them develop the skills needed to navigate university life.

Based on a narrative of navigation and exploration, the name Takere is taken from the whakataukī “E kore e ngaro, he takere waka nui”, meaning, “We will never be lost; we are the hull of a great canoe”.  Students are given provisions that will set them up for their academic career.

Thirty-seven students have been staying at Ilam Apartments accommodation for the four-week programme which will wrap up this Friday. This introduction will be complemented by ongoing mentoring and support throughout the year.

Samoan student, Solomon Davis, 18, who plans to study Te Reo at UC, says the Takere group has quickly become close-knit. “Being able to interact with so many people from my own culture who understand that side of my identity makes it a really comfortable, nourishing and encouraging space. It’s a cool kaupapa.”

“At the start I was really scared of all these new people, but now it’s like we’re family and we have really cool connections.”

Favor Leavasa (Samoan), 17, was Deputy Head Boy at Catholic Cathedral College, and will study Criminal Justice and Psychology at UC with the goal of becoming a police officer. He says he has gained useful knowledge through the programme. “It’s really set me up for the reality of what university life is like. In four weeks, we’ve covered the social and academic aspects and trying to balance both of those.

“It’s been a real learning experience for me. I think university is totally different to high school, you have to manage your own time. No-one’s going to be there to tell you what you should do at a certain time. It’s your own journey.”

Kisania Shingleton (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Maniapoto), 18, who left Papanui High School last year, says taking part in Takere has made her feel supported. “I was feeling a bit nervous, coming from high school, I didn’t feel like I was really prepared.

“Now, being able to get to know the campus and having friends to start with is certainly something that I’m grateful for.”

UC Tumu Tuarua Akoranga | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Catherine Moran says Takere is part of UC’s commitment to addressing the inequities that face Māori and Pacific students.

“UC has launched Takere as a pilot programme designed to improve equity of access and success for our students.

“We’re already seeing how it creates a sense of community, builds on their cultural and community connections, and provides them with opportunities to connect with Māori and Pacific academics and support staff on campus.

“The programme, which is unique among Aotearoa New Zealand universities for being live-in, shows participants what the university environment is like so they can start the new academic year supported and better prepared.”

Takere provides participants with meals, a weekly allowance, a fees-free education course on the theory of learning, social and cultural activities and the opportunity to participate in the UC Māori leadership programme, Paihere and the Pacific Mentoring Programme.

There is also mentoring, support for whānau of recipients, and engagement with the Amokapua Pākākano | Assistant Vice Chancellor Māori, Pacific and Equity, Dr Darryn Russell.

Dr Russell says one of the most important aspects of Takere is the opportunity to develop whanaungatanga (connections) with other Māori and Pacific students and staff.

“Takere represents a new approach to support the success of talented Māori and Pacific taiohi, and aims to disrupt UC in order to better respond to diverse learners at the institution.

“We want all our students to feel part of UC and to know they have a network of people they can turn to if they need help or support. Takere is a way of fostering that at the very start of their UC experience.

The 2021 Takere programme is a trial that will be regularly evaluated and adapted throughout the year based on feedback from the students taking part.

MIL OSI