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Source: Massey University

More than 30 Māori postgraduate diploma, masters and doctoral students were celebrated and will be supported in their learning journey by the Te Rau Angitū Awards Programme, which was previously known as the Pūrehuroa Awards.

Commencing last week over a two-day wānanga, the awards contribute towards students’ study fees, research costs and provides academic, learning support and manaakitanga. The Te Rau Angitū Awards Programme is based on the Te Rau Puawai model that was established by Emeritus Professor Sir Mason Durie more than 20 years ago and is now hosted by the Office of the DVC Māori.

During the two-day wānanga more than 60 Māori postgraduate and doctoral students from across the university assembled together on campus and online to connect and engage in the practices of wānanga and whakawhanaungatanga. Students heard from Distinguished Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith, Te Toi Ihorei ki Pūrehuroa, and received tailored academic, learning and cultural workshops including raranga (flax weaving) while also being connected with staff from Te Mata o te Tau: Academy for Māori Research and Scholarship, and key academic and support staff in each college.

Te Rau Angitū is led by Dr Monica Koia who also leads Te Wheke a Toi: The International Indigenous Centre for Critical Doctoral Studies, and previously managed Te Rau Puawai, for many years.

Dr Koia says most Māori students study by distance, which makes this level of support so important. “We know these awards, in combination with our support programme, work for Māori because it draws on the exemplar programme Te Rau Puawai, run by Māori and underpinned by tikanga Māori principles like manaakitanga. We provide an holistic programme offering multiple learning support strategies such as wānanga to bring recipients together face-to-face and online, dedicated academic and learning mentors, visits to tauira and many more supports”.

Officer of Te Mata o te Tau and a Te Rau Angitū mentor Associate Professor Fiona Te Momo says the online and on campus wānanga meant Dr Koia and her team “were able to build a physical and virtual bridge through Te Rau Angitū to address the needs of students to engage culturally.”

One student said attending the wānanga helped her feel connected to others. “It was so great to know that I am not alone. Being given the space to share and laugh, was just what I needed to start this year”. Others commented that they were able to make new friends and that it was good to be in “a Māori safe place”. “My hauora has been replenished and my academic learning refilled,” said one student. Another said, “I was lost, coming here I found my way, I found my data analysis framework from our raranga session.”

Dr Koia says the programme is about walking alongside potential and current Māori students and their whānau. “The support is not just 8.30am to 5pm because we know that research does not necessarily stop on a Friday night. This is about making them a part of our Massey whānau and we become a part of their whānau too. We know the programme will help students to feel well supported, less isolated and more connected to other students and key staff members.”

DVC Māori Professor Meihana Durie says the programme is already having positive impact. “Under the leadership of Dr Koia, Te Rau Angitū has provided a critical connection to Masters and PhD pathways for Māori students, setting in place high levels of support and outstanding mentorship.  Te Rau Angitū, like Te Rau Puawai, emphasises provision of manaakitanga, an approach that we know is a major conduit for Māori student success. The influx of Te Rau Angitū participants this year demonstrates the high demand for access to support underpinned by kaupapa and tikanga Māori.”

The name Te Rau Angitū translates to ‘The many successes’ and signifies the whakapapa connection to the tuakana programme Te Rau Puawai.

The programme has a dedicated Kaihāpai Māori Tauira mentor Suzanne Hepi who provides daily academic, learning and manaakitanga, weekly night sessions on Tuesday from 6pm-8pm for whānau who work during the day, a dedicated space in Te Mata o te Tau and Te Wheke a Toi (Geography room 1.11) and hopefully, at some stage visit whānau in their whare.  The programme is also looking at establishing a tuakana, teina programme from within the awardees.