Fourth-year environmental planning student Nevada Huaki-Foote is one of seven University of Waikato students to be awarded a 2018 Waikato Regional Council and Waikato-Tainui – Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship.
Nevada’s one busy student. Her iwi affiliations are Waikato-Tainui and Ngāti Porou, and alongside her university study she’s been involved in an initiative to restore the riparian zone along the Mangatangi Stream that lies directly beneath her Mangatangi Marae. “I hope this project will not only help our whenua by reintroducing native plants, but also protect our wai which is currently suffering from degradation,” she says.
As a member of the Tuia Rangatahi Leadership programme, Nevada has been working with her community to take local children to environmental enhancement activities, which she hopes will promote environmental awareness, opportunities, and kaitiaki responsibilities. As part of the project she has been mentored by representatives from Waikato Regional Council.
The Dame Te Atairangikaahu scholarships are awarded to students who are enrolled in full-time undergraduate study, up to (and including) honours level, whose families reside within the Waikato Regional Council’s operational boundaries -- largely the lands of Tainui waka.
“I am extremely privileged to be part of this kaupapa with many inspiring rangatahi Māori,” Nevada says. “Especially since many of us tauira have a passion for te taiao [environment] and fulfilling kaitiaki responsibilities.”
The University of Waikato runs an Employability Plus Programme that offers students opportunities to gain work experience in the wider community, and Nevada has been a part of this while also being a Māori mentor in her faculty, hosting workshops and whakawhaanaunga activities for students taking geography and environmental planning papers.
She will wrap up her bachelor degree at the end of the year, and says she has options to consider; either studying for a masters degree and later a PhD, or begin working as a Māori environmental planner “or maybe both”.
“Ultimately, I intend to restore and protect our environment. My degree has given me skills I can combine with the knowledge from my ancestors, to work toward ensuring iwi and hapū become more involved in resource management decisions at the local and national level.”
Ngāpera Keegan is another scholarship recipient. The second-year Bachelor of Science student is majoring in Environmental Science. She’s bilingual and submitted her scholarship application in te reo Māori. She often submits her university assignments in te reo, saying she enjoys the challenge, including making up words for which there is no Māori equivalent, “which is quite a lot when it comes to science”. She will put the money from the scholarship towards her course fees.
Ngāpera’s already completed one internship at Waikato Regional Council, working with the Land and Soil Science team, working with ecologists and looking how to assess the condition of remnant forests, and with field scientists she’s investigated water quality of streams rivers and lakes. She was also able to help WRC staff to become familiar with aspects of mātauranga Māori.
In November, Ngāpera will travel to the Crawthron Institute in Nelson for a 10-week internship. “These experiences will help me to decide what direction I want to specialise in once I graduate,” she says.
The other Waikato University students to receive scholarships are law student Angela Grant, Bachelor of Teaching student Grace Rihari, Bachelor of Science student Shakyra Te Aho, Jazmine Cashmore who’s working towards a Bachelor of Māori and Pacific Development, and for the fourth time, Tekiteora Rolleston-Gabel who’s studying for a conjoint Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science.