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Māori science scholarship recognised

Māori science scholarship recognised

AUCKLAND, 19 September 2006: Dr Michael Walker’s achievement in scientific research will be honoured when he gives his Inaugural Lecture as Professor at the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Auckland at Waipapa Marae tomorrow.

For Michael, whose lecture will be on groundbreaking work in showing that animals have a magnetic sense that they use to travel long distances, the Professorship marks recognition of his work as a scientist. It is also a marker in a broader quest for him of increasing Māori involvement in research and the sciences.

A Joint Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, the national Māori Centre for Research Excellence, Michael has had a career-long commitment to promoting Māori involvement in the sciences.

In 1991 he set up the Tuakana Programme to ensure Māori and Pacific Island students in biology succeeded in their first year at university and stayed to complete their degrees.

As a result of the programme, enrolment and pass rates doubled, the programme is now used in all faculties of the University and has been extended to work with secondary schools in South Auckland.

Aiming to produce a new critical mass of Māori research, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga is on track to achieve a key goal of supporting 500 new Māori PhDs within five years. Its research has involved over 2000 Māori scholars, community members and international academics in the past year.

“For me, it’s been a journey of undertaking scientific research and also wanting to contribute to extending Māori scholarship,” Michael says. “I’m honoured and delighted with this Professorship, and at the great results we’ve been seeing in retaining more Māori and Pacific Island students in the sciences.

“We have a long way to go, but the results of the work being done through the CoRE have been really encouraging.

“For a lot of people, Māori and research have been two separate words. I’m looking forward to seeing that change and to seeing the Māori representation in research become as strong as it already is in the arts.”


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