Māori Academic Programme

03 November 2011


2011 has been an exciting year for the Māori Academic Programme (MAP). Highlights include the collaborative effort with the Student Learning Centre to initiate academic workshops for Part I students to establish good study habits early on in their degree. Another highlight was the Part II Exam Preparation Boot Camp where students were based at Willow Park Christian Camp in Eastern Beach for a weekend, without the distractions of the internet, TV, house chores or family. With the support of academic staff and our Māori and Pacific tutors, we were able to run effective workshops for all compulsory Part II courses.

Undoubtedly, the Māori law student body plays an important part in ensuring such initiatives are successful as they make up the numbers who attend. A key highlight for Te Rākau Ture, the Māori Law Students Association, was their annual Haerenga - a week-long promotional tour of secondary schools in a particular region. This is the major schools outreach event for the students and MAP. The group was fortunate to receive generous financial support from the Faculty to supplement their independent fundraising actitivities. This year, the group organised vans, schools to visit and marae to stay at in the Tūwharetoa region – a first for Haerenga. The trip took place in the last week of the mid-semester break in early September. The main purpose of the journey was to promote tertiary education by encouraging Māori students to maximise their potential through higher education and personal development.

Starting off in Auckland on the Monday, the group visited two High Schools in South Auckland; James Cook High School and Papakura High School. With enthusiasm, the group warmed everyone up with the “Mirimiri, pakia” activity, adding in the sounds and actions of a tiger, buffalo, snake and pussycat to make things interesting. The sound of laughter filled the halls at every school, thereby “breaking the ice” and building on whakawhanaungatanga (process of establishing relationships). An entertaining array of interactive skits and games followed, with valuable information about the differences between university life and high school, scholarships and funding support, extra-curricular activities and the different types of law that can be studied. The audience listened carefully to win gift bags after the presentation by answering questions correctly. An opportunity was then given at the end for a Q and A session where the school students and teachers could enquire into the students’ lives as Māori law students.

From Auckland the group then travelled to Taumarunui where they were warmly welcomed by a pōwhiri onto Kauriki Marae. Following two more schools in Taumarunui on the Tuesday, the group travelled on to Ohakune to spend two nights at Maungarongo Marae. The locals were filled with joy to see that the students had made the effort to travel to their region. Before heading to Ruapehu College on Wednesday afternoon, the group had the opportunity to experience the lofty slopes of Mt Ruapehu, courtesy of the generous hearts of the locals, Ngāti Rangi. This provided a fun way for the students to build whakawhanaungatanga amongst themselves for collegiality and support at law school. Thursday saw the students travel to Turangi then Taupo schools and finally onto Rotorua for the last schools on Friday.

The overarching kaupapa (purpose) is promoting university study as a viable option for Māori secondary students and highlighting how it will provide benefits not only for the individual, but for whanau, hapū, iwi and New Zealand society. The group aimed to emphasise that University is not an alien or inaccessible place; it is an environment that Māori can enter, thrive and be successful in. All in all, Haerenga was a very enjoyable event which provides a great opportunity for the law students to give back to local communities embodying the Tikanga Māori principle of utu (reciprocity).

Achievement of success was seen in the graduation ceremonies this year, in which 23 Māori students graduated, including six graduating with an LLB(Hons). The end of year dinner hosted by Te Rākau Ture is another major event that highlights and celebrates success amongst the students. In particular, the Judge Karina Williams Prize in Law, founded in memory of the late judge, is awarded at the dinner to the Māori law student completing with the highest GPA across all their law courses. This prestigous award is presented by a member of the Williams whanau in attendance at the end of year dinner. It will take place at Waipapa marae later this year.