Future bright for Rangatahi Māori in STEM fields

Thanks to programmes like Pūhoro STEM Academy, rangatahi are rising above and beyond expectations and challenging negative stereotypes about Māori in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 

“Not only are Pūhoro students disrupting the narrative regarding Māori student NCEA science achievement, but they are also trailblazers in their own whānau,” says director, Naomi Manu.

Published: Wednesday, 4 July 2018 | Rāapa, 04 Hōngongoi, 2018

Attendees of the Ka Hoa te Rangatahi – STEM Futures Symposium event in the weekend were witness to some of these rangatahi trailblazers.

“Pūhoro helped me find my passion in life, and that’s environmental sustainability,” said Year 13 student, Meschka Seifritz, “It has given me confidence and support in my studies”.

“Through Pūhoro I’ve been connected with my culture: I’m now learning te reo and I’ve been able to see tikanga Māori incorporated in our school assemblies,” said student Ella Cameron-Smith, who was also instrumental in the introduction of recycling to her school. 

This event, hosted by the Academy at Massey University, provided a space for Iwi and Māori organisations to see some of the work Pūhoro STEM Academy does with rangatahi and to discuss future investment opportunities to ensure longevity of the programme.  

“We are grateful to all of you who have supported us thus far. We are wanting to continue our work with rangatahi, and to expand so that we can continue to support Māori students on their pathways from high school to university and ultimately into a career,” said Naomi.

Pūhoro STEM Academy’s vision is ‘To advance Māori leadership and capability to help deliver a world class science community’. It is evident from the kōrero shared by rangatahi, and the reports released already that they are succeeding in doing so.

“The results in 2016 were staggering with Pūhoro students not only closing the gap between Māori and non-Māori achievement rates, but exceeding the national pass rates for core science, physics, chemistry and biology external achievement standards altogether”.

Programmes like Pūhoro STEM Academy are securing a bright future for rangatahi Māori in STEM fields. 

“Rangatahi make up 25% of the population, but 100% of the future. If you invest in us, you are investing into the future,” said Meschka.

Te Puni Kōkiri has been an avid supporter of this initiative since its inception. Funding was provided to launch the programme in 2016, and further funding has been set aside this year to help bridge the funding gap.