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New Waikato scholarship encourages more Māori and Pacific students into academia

15 December 2021

Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai
University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori, Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai.

The University of Waikato has launched a new doctoral scholarship for Māori and Pacific students aimed at increasing the number of Māori and Pacific academics across the University.

The new University of Waikato Academic Pathway Doctoral Scholarship provides students of Māori or Pacific descent up to $35,000 per year for each year of their doctoral study. It is also unique in that it allows recipients to study at universities outside of Waikato, with the intent that they return to an academic role.

University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori, Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, says the scholarship is a commitment to setting more Māori and Pacific students on a pathway into academia, and an acknowledgment of the place and value of Indigenous knowledge, both in research and learning at the University, and in wider society.

The scholarship also aligned with a strategic goal of the University’s Taskforce to value mātauranga Māori across all its academic programmes.

“There has been a lot of work done over the last 15 to 20 years to increase the number of Māori doctoral students across the tertiary sector through Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga’s MAI Doctoral programme but there is still more that needs to be done particularly in providing more direct pathways into the academy.

“If we as a university are committed to supporting the development aspirations of our iwi and Māori communities, and the contribution our Māori graduates will make back to their communities and wider society, then our contribution as a university through this scholarship is another way of enabling them to realise these aspirations,'' says Dr Tiakiwai.

Assistant Vice-Chancellor Pacific, Dr Keaka Hemi, says the scholarship is an intentional step by the University to try and increase the numbers of doctoral students of Pacific descent, to increase equity and better outcomes for Pacific students, families and communities. This also aligned with the University’s strategic commitments to Pacific people in its Pacific Strategic Plan 2021-2025.

“There has been much coverage on the low number of Māori and Pacific academics in tertiary education in New Zealand. This is an intentional step to try and increase those numbers,” says Dr Hemi.

“At the PhD level, these students are especially in the minority. But this scholarship shows that we value the contribution we know that they can make as future leaders and contributors to the University, iwi, families, communities and to Aotearoa,” says Dr Hemi.

“If we don’t have Pacific people that are completing PhDs in engineering, we won’t have Pacific engineers teaching engineering. If we don’t have Pacific students completing PhDs in science, we won’t have Pacific scientists teaching science. If we don’t have Pacific students completing management PhDs, we won’t have needed Pacific leaders in industry, and that means our job is really only half-done,” says Dr Hemi.

The scholarship is open for application now with applications closing on January 31, 2022.


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