Bachelor of Engineering with Honours (Mechanical Engineering)
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Third-year mechanical engineering student Luke Fielding says university has changed him beyond belief.
When he arrived at Waikato he says he was a recluse, a loner, but now he’s a changed man, thanks largely to the University of Waikato’s Māori leadership programme Te Āhurutanga. He’s been going into schools to talk about studying at Waikato and he recently spoke off the cuff to a group of 150 people. No one was more surprised than Luke was.
“I had a pretty rough upbringing. I struggled at school. My parents split when I was young. My Pākehā mum brought me up and I knew nothing of my Māori side, but that’s slowly changing, and these days I have friends, I socialise and I feel a lot more confident and grounded.”
In his first year at university, Luke (Ngai Tahu) received support from one of the University’s Māori mentors; senior students who can help with study and other more general issues that students sometimes have to deal with, such as work load, relationships or accommodation issues.
Luke says he benefitted so much from mentoring, that he decided he’d become a mentor too. But while the desire was there, he knew he needed to gain more knowledge of Māori tikanga and te reo. That’s when he signed up for Te Āhurutanga.
As part of the programme he’s travelled all over New Zealand; to Parihaka, Rotorua, Christchurch and Wellington, sleeping on marae, and learning from elders and business people about how they are introducing Māori culture into their workplaces, and about leadership and communication.
In Christchurch he visited the offices of Ngai Tahu and for the first time in his life he was able to learn his whakapapa. “It blows my mind, and it’s helped me to feel rooted,” Luke says.
Luke has secured an engineering internship over summer and also plans to start learning te reo Māori. He will be a Māori mentor next year. “It bothers me that so few Māori are completing qualifications in science and engineering,” he says. “So if I can help change that, then I’ll be pleased.”
He says he began his engineering degree thinking it would lead to a good job. But as he prepares for his fourth and final year, his thoughts have changed. “I’m less self-focussed now. I still want to be an engineer but I also want to use my skills for the good of Māori development.”
Te Āhurutanga Māori Student Leadership Programme started at the University of Waikato in 2012 to develop and nurture Māori students to become good leaders and global citizens. Te Ao Māori, te reo me ōnā tikanga, whānau, hapu and iwi are distinctive features that provide the foundation and guidance for the programme.