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Pūhoro Charitable Trust To Guide Next Phase Of Maori STEM Participation

A hugely successful programme that helps Māori high school students excel in science, technology, engineering and maths is now being overseen by an independent Māori trust, which will strive to become a global exemplar at the interface of science and Indigenous knowledge.

The Pūhoro STEM Academy was set up at Massey University in 2016 to work with local high schools to accelerate Māori studentsuccess in STEM subjects, and prepare them for a smooth transition to tertiary study. Six years later, Pūhoro rangatahi are five times more likely than other Māori school leavers to transition from secondary to tertiary education at degree level.

In April, Education Minister Kelvin Davis announced a three-year funding package for Pūhoro to grow the number of students from 1,000 to 5000, and expand the programme to include at least two new regions annually.

Manahautū and Pūhoro founder Naomi Manu says that this development is years in the making noting that ‘we will continue to engage rangatahi and whānau in much the same way noting that enhancements to the kaupapa will come as we look to expand and grow’.

Today the Pūhoro Charitable Trust, created by, with, and for Māori, has responsibility for Pūhoro. The six inaugural Board members are experienced leaders from across the Research Science and Innovation sector and Te Ao Māori. They are: Robin Hapi (Co-Chair), Dr Jessica Hutchings (Co-Chair), Sir Mark Solomon, Tahu Kukutai, Meika Foster; and, Pūhoro STEM Academy Founder and Manahautū /Chief Executive Naomi Manu.

The Trust will deliver an enhanced STEMM kaupapa that recognises the value of mātauranga Māori alongside traditional STEM disciplines. Pūhoro Co-Chair Robin Hapi says the Trust wanted to acknowledge the inclusion of science within Mātauranga Māori, Mātauranga-ā-iwi and Mātauranga-ā-hapū and the role that our knowledge systems bring to illuminate the minds of our rangatahi. “It is a very timely transition with the recent debate around the place of Mātauranga within our education system. We want Pūhoro to be a global exemplar of what excellence for rangatahi looks like at the interface of science and Indigenous knowledge systems”.

In mid-August, with the support of Waikato-Tainui Iwi, Pūhoro Charitable Trust signed a new three year agreement with Waikato University to support the expansion of the Pūhoro kaupapa across the Waikato region.

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