Keana Hepi

Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship

Key Info

Ngāti Maahanga

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Laws
  • Te Reo Māori
  • Law

Juggling work and study is nothing to Keana Hepi, who is in her first year of study at the University of Waikato.

Currently doing a conjoint degree - Bachelor of Arts in Te Reo Māori and a Bachelor of Laws - Keana (Ngāti Maahanga) is studying online so she can continue working full-time at ACC in the call centre.

All of her hard work and multitasking efforts are paying off.

In September 2022, Keana was one of seven undergraduate students awarded the Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship, which was established in 1991 to mark the 25th anniversary of the accession of the late Māori Queen.

“It’s an honour, and it shows that I’m on the right track,” says Keana, 18. “It’s rewarding to have my hard work and effort recognised, and it shows my family that I am committed. I am so grateful for their support and this is for them.”

The scholarships were awarded by the Waikato Regional Council and Waikato-Tainui on Kīngitanga Day at the University. Recipients were assessed on academic merit, commitment to continue studies, and the applicants’ potential, particularly for applicants at first- and second-year levels.

Eligible applicants had to have whakapapa or a family connection to land within the Waikato Regional Council boundaries, which are largely aligned with the ancestral lands of Tainui waka.

They also had to be enrolled in full-time undergraduate study at the University, and be a New Zealand citizen or resident of Māori descent. A connection of taiao (the environment) and Kīngitanga were also a key part of the scholarship.

The former Hamilton Girls’ High School student is enjoying her studies, and says she came to Waikato University because of the reputation of the Faculty of Law and Māori language programmes.

“I’ve really enjoyed my Māori language papers this trimester, particularly learning more about the values inherent in te reo Māori and the knowledge systems of mātauranga Māori.”

In the future, Keana hopes to use her qualifications to support her tribe with legal matters, or work in government policy.

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