New Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori) at University of Auckland
New Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori) at the University of Auckland
Professor Cindy Kiro (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hine) has been appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori) at the University of Auckland. She takes over from Jim Peters who has been in the position since 2006.
“I am very excited to be taking this role and having the opportunity to influence strategy at a university of such importance, at such a critical time,” says Professor Kiro.
She will use her role to reinforce work already being done to give Māori the confidence to choose university as an option where their culture will be recognised and they can build on academic achievements.
“Some Māori families still see universities as elitist and the big challenge for us is to change that and show we can work in an integrated way for undergraduates, and post-graduates who have studied elsewhere,” says Professor Kiro.
In particular, she would like to see more Māori students choosing STEM subjects.
“I really want to get young Māori to believe they are capable and can achieve in areas like engineering and science. Great work has been done to encourage Māori recruitment in medicine and I’d like to see the same done in these other areas.”
These aims reflect her deep interest in education and her commitment to improving life for tamariki and young Māori.
“Education remains the most powerful tool for Māori to do well for themselves and for their families,” she says. “It is still the best way to experience social mobility, get a better job and earn more money to enhance family well-being.”
And the value of education goes further than that, she adds. “Māori have a strong ethic for voluntary work and caring for others so getting good jobs and becoming better off has a positive impact on the wider community.”
She is also keen to see the university’s new Reo Māori Policy embedded and celebrated in university life with wider opportunities offered to learn te reo.
Professor Kiro will retain close links to the Faculty of Education and Social Work’s Tai Tokerau campus in her home town of Whangarei. She was director of the campus until her new appointment and will remain involved in the popular Tai Tokerau speakers’ series which she initiated. This series has been successful in attracting notable speakers to Whangarei and getting the community engaged.
“This region needs good quality tertiary education institutions like Tai Tokerau,” she says. “My iwi are from Northland, I was born in Whangarei, and I do worry that Northland remains the poorest region in the country.”
She will also remain involved in the Welfare Expert Advisory Group which was established by the government in May this year to review the welfare system to ensure it is accessible and fair to all New Zealanders. The group will report on their findings in February 2019.
Professor Kiro is approaching her new role with characteristic humility. However, she is enjoying the fact that Auckland has joined at least two other New Zealand universities in appointing a woman to this role.
“It has made me think of the realm of māreikura," she says, "and the opportunities for leadership that bring women’s characteristics to the fore."