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Trust scholarships to support Maori economic development

6 September 2012

Trust invests $450,000 annually in scholarships programme to support Maori economic development

A trust set up as part of the Maori fisheries settlement is continuing to expand one of New Zealand’s major scholarships programmes to support the development of Maori business capability and the growth of Maori industry.

Te Putea Whakatupu Trust was established in 2004 under the Maori Fisheries Act to support education, training and workforce development. Its broad range of activities includes helping struggling primary school children in a pilot literacy and numeracy programme and investigating new schooling models to lift Maori success in education.

At its second annual Maori industry futures conference in Rotorua last week, Trust chairman Richard Jefferies announced that a new scholarship worth a total of $100,000 annually would be launched next year for Maori who are enrolled in farming and agriculture degree-level study. Up to 10 farming and agriculture scholarships of $10,000 will be offered annually.

The Whanui Scholarship is the result of an exciting new partnership between Te Putea Whakatupu Trust and the Federation of Maori Authorities, which is a 50:50 joint funder of the farming and agriculture initiative.

The Whanui Scholarship will bring the Trust’s annual scholarship investment to $450,000. Mr Jefferies said there was potential to further build the programme in future years with scholarships supporting other key industries.

In 2011, the Trust – in partnership with the Māori Education Trust – established the Tāwera Scholarship of $10,000 each for up to 30 Māori enrolled in business, commerce or management degrees. Last year Te Pūtea Whakatupu added the Rona Scholarship – up to 10 scholarships of $10,000 for students working toward a degree in fisheries, aquaculture or marine sciences.

Mr Jefferies said the scholarships were a key element of the Trust’s strategic focus of lifting the level of Māori participation in middle and senior management and science roles.

“As iwi settle their Treaty claims and develop economic capability, many Maori entities are working across multiple industries, taking stock of their newly-received assets and also their obligation to manage them well on behalf of their communities,” he said.

“At this crucial time, there is a pressing need for education and training support in general business as well as specific industries, and an immediate need to lift the number of Maori with management and commerce skills who will be able to take up middle and senior management roles.”

As well as the cash injection, it is a condition of each scholarship that recipients attend the Trust’s two-day annual conference Ngā Whetū Hei Whai: Charting Pathways for Māori Industry Futures. Each student has the opportunity to give a brief presentation at the conference, highlighting their skills and areas of interest to potential employers and mentors attending the conference.

“These students are potential Maori business leaders who, on graduation, will be well-positioned to contribute to Maori economic growth. The national conference provides a valuable opportunity for our future economic leaders to meet the movers and shakers of today’s business world, and learn first-hand from their experiences and insights,” Mr Jefferies said.

“It is also an unprecedented opportunity for these young people to begin building professional networks. Most of the scholarship recipients are in their final year of study, and are preparing to move into the workforce to gain critical industry experience. Many of them have long-term aspirations to use their skills and knowledge to benefit their iwi, and help build the Maori economy generally.”

The three scholarships are symbolically named after stars which early Maori used to guide their voyages and signal important times of the year. The star Whanui (Vega) is associated in Maori tradition with harvesting.

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