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Minister urges graduates to embrace ‘endless opportunities’

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi
Whakatāne, 27 March 2018

Minister urges graduates to embrace ‘endless opportunities’ of Imaginarium plan

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta urged graduates of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi to build on the legacy of the institution’s first 25 years and embrace the opportunity and vision of its next 25 years of development.

The keynote speaker for Graduation 2018 called upon the 2961 graduates to ponder the endless opportunities of the indigenous tertiary institution’s plans for a science centre and Imaginarium, announced on Friday during the formal capping ceremony.

Speaking at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae in Whakatāne before 117 doctoral, masters, bachelor and certificate graduates and more than 600 iwi representatives, government and community officials, academics, staff and whānau supporters, Awanuiārangi chair of council Sir Hirini Moko Mead said that the Wānanga would establish a science centre and Imaginarium.

“We plan to widen the range of fields of study to include science, technology, engineering, mathematics and physics,” Sir Hirini said. “The Imaginarium will be a great step forward in teaching subjects like navigation, astrology, marine biology, environmental sciences, mātauranga Māori. Think of our mokopuna becoming physicists, chemists, geologists, environmentalists.”

Sir Hirini told graduates that what they had achieved would empower them to make a difference in the world.

Judge Layne Harvey, deputy-chair of council, said that in the institution’s 26th year, the role of all those connected with Awanuiārangi was to lead the way for the next 25 years of development as a people and as citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Chief executive Professor Wiremu Doherty said Awanuiārangi would soon launch a new Te Reo Māori strategy incorporating a range of initiatives, programmes and research. The Wānanga was preparing to announce a major Te Reo research platform. The largest and most complex study ever of any indigenous language would be led by Awanuiārangi researchers.

Professor Doherty said Graduation 2018 marked a number of firsts, including the first mother and daughter to graduate at the same time with doctoral degrees. Also graduating were the first cohort from the professional doctorate degree, including the first international doctoral graduate from Washington State’s Chehalis First Nation, Dr Marla Conwell (Doctor of Indigenous Development and Advancement).

Minister Mahuta said the graduation of so many students across so many disciplines builds on a legacy set by the ancestors, by Ngāti Awa, by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and by Māori academics.

“That’s the legacy of leadership, of resilience, of vision, of endurance,” she said.

“We have a great task in front of us as a Māori nation to carve out the future and what this country should look and feel like so all our tamariki can live prosperously in our country and on their lands.”

The Imaginarium concept would take iwi Māori back to the stars, to the astronomical knowledge the ancestors began with. The Minister acknowledged the first international doctoral graduate from the Chehalis First Nation and a group of visiting Taiwanese academics.

“The mystery of an Imaginarium and what it might unleash if we integrate other knowledge systems from other indigenous peoples provides endless opportunities. The mind has no boundary. We need to keep pondering on what that means.”

She said the concept would challenge politicians, policy makers and other education institutions.

“There’s the opportunity and that’s what the next 25 years will look like,” Minister Mahuta said.

Special awards were made as follows:

Emeritus Professor Roger Green, ONZM, Award for Top Thesis - Morehu
Te Onehou Eliza Phillis Award For Outstanding Iwi Research - Chehalis First Nation doctoral graduate (Doctor of Indigenous Development and Advancement) Marla Conwell, of Washington State, US.
Top scholar, School of Indigenous Graduate Studies - Janine Maruera, Ngā Ruahine. Top scholar, School of Undergraduate Studies - Tuangina Nikora, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi. Top scholar, School of Iwi Development - Upokoina Papera, Cook Islands Māori.
Excellence in Te Reo Māori - Barbara Tangiahua Thomason, Ngāti Hauiti and Ngāti Porou.
Most Improved First-Year Student in Te Reo Māori - Jannette Harrison, Ngāti Awa.
Contribution to Iwi Development and Advancement - Te Aitanga a Hauiti Centre of Excellence.

Ends

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