Pūhoro STEM Academy funding partnership 


Pūhoro STEM Academy funding partnership 

Massey University, Palmerston North 


Reflecting on the past year, we’ve all had to adapt to COVID-19 – including the way we work, teach, learn, and live.

There were major changes in the labour market:

Aotearoa saw a drop in unemployment from 5.3% in September to 4.7% in March this year – despite the ongoing global uncertainty – this was positive news, but it also underscored a couple of things:

    1. Our response to COVID-19 is working – thank you everyone for the part you have played.
    2. Developing a strong, resilient, workforce is critical to our ongoing success.
    3. Ensuring our rangatahi are in position to participate in a high value economy is essential.

The evolving labour market is expected to significantly impact jobs - particularly low-skilled labour jobs where many of our people are employed.

We are going to feel this pressure for many years to come.

In fact, one of the greatest challenges facing our rangatahi will be the ability to evolve, adapt, and stay the course.

But if we look to the horizon, there is a lot to be excited about.

NCEA Level 1 rates are up for students in Māori medium.

At Level 2 and the figure dips, but then lifts again at Level 3 where the difference between English medium and Māori medium is 3.6%.

What this tells me is; the Māori Medium pathway works for our young people.

And that’s why it’s important we celebrate the work Pūhoro is doing and create an environment where rangatahi can continue to thrive.

Pūhoro STEM Academy was launched in response to low Māori engagement in STEM-related career pathways.

In 2016 the founding cohort of the programme exceeded nationwide pass-rates of non-Māori in NCEA Level 1 physics, biology and chemistry.

This trend has continued every year with Pūhoro students either on par with or exceeding nationwide pass-rates of non-Maori across NCEA Level 1, 2 and 3.

The majority of Pūhoro students who have completed the first phase - secondary school - of the programme successfully transitioned into tertiary study, apprenticeships, or the Defence Force.

And I’m very pleased to announce today that a new funding agreement will see the Government provide $2.97 million for a further three years, enabling the Pūhoro STEM Academy to increase their student numbers to over 5,000, and continue this story of Māori educational success.

Last year we relaunched Ka Hikitia – Ka Hapaitia and Tau Mai Te Reo; two strategies designed to lift Māori educational achievement.

We've known for some time the system has not served Māori well and Māori parents, whānau, educators and students identified Māori identity, language and culture as critical to Māori education success.

We’re seeing small pockets of work where the strategies are doing this, so as part of today it was helpful to see how this new partnership with Pūhoro aligns with Ka Hikitia by doing things like:

  • Responding to the needs of whānau.
  • Designing a programme that helps whānau and ākonga feel like they belong in our education system by using a te ao Māori pedagogy.
  • I’ve talked about the high levels of achievement.
  • The Pūhoro framework is Te Takere. The values of Te Takere includes: Ukaipōtanga, Tūhonotanga and Ngākau Pono.
  • And finally, rangatiratanga. 

The Pūhoro way is the for-Māori, by-Māori way.

We often talk about it, but more and more often we’re seeing practical examples of this.

Over the past two years I’ve launched a couple of initiatives that use this approach:

  1. Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori – making it easier for teachers and school leaders to learn te reo Māori. Conceived by Māori, the programme was designed by Mātanga Māori, for Māori. Over a thousand teachers, school leaders and support staff have graduated through the four pilot programmes and there are plans to take the programme nationwide shortly.
  2. Te Kawa Matakura – a Māori leadership programme based on Māori traditions, methodologies, teachings and Mātauranga Māori. The first cohort for the pilot will graduate in June and I’m looking forward to that because it was trialled in Tai Tokerau; and
  3. Te Hurihanganui – this is a bold step to address racism in the education system. The first community project has been launched in Porirua, with more set to be announced shortly.

All three programmes have been developed with matanga Māori. It’s an important point because it acknowledges the expertise resides within our own people. By Māori, for Māori.

As Māori we have a fairly well-honed view of the inequities that have been perpetuated over the years.  We’re trying to leave that behind in the rear vision mirror and instead turn our attention to the opportunities of equity that exist in some of the shifts currently underway.

With the Ministry’s tautoko, Pūhoro is going to support over 5,000 rangatahi in STEM subjects – more than are currently enrolled in the Pūhoro academies.

Our Government is committed to reducing inequalities in education and improving the outcomes and experience of ākonga Māori and their whānau.

This partnership supports that commitment and will realise a lift in student achievement, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the results of this partnership and thank everyone involved for their hard work in bringing this partnership to fruition.