Paiana Whaanga is one of 30 outstanding Māori and Pasifika student teachers to be awarded the prestigious Kupe Scholarship. Whaanga grew up Wellington immersed in the Māori community, attending kohanga reo at the whānau’s Koraenui marae. Now she is studying towards a Massey University graduate diploma in teaching in primary, following in the footsteps of her teaching role model, her late father, who taught for 23 years.
The Kupe scholarship aims to attract Māori and Pasifika high achievers to the teaching profession and support them to become inspiring teachers and role models in early childhood, primary and secondary education.
Education Minister Nikki Kaye says she is delighted by the outstanding calibre of scholars emerging from the 90 applicants.
“These scholars have already demonstrated high academic achievement, leadership, and close links with their communities.
“This scholarship provides them the opportunity to make a real difference to children and young people, from early childhood education through to secondary and right across the country.”
The Kupe Scholarships fund course fees and study allowances, and offer mentoring and recruitment support after graduation. Alongside the funding, each recipient also receives a taonga keepsake in the form of a stylised paddle ‘hoe’ or waka / vaka / va’a as a permanent recognition of their achievements.
“The scholarships are part of our drive to encourage more high-calibre professionals into teaching, with a strong focus on increasing the number of Te Reo Māori speakers.”
Scholars ranged from a former Manu Samoa rugby player, a grandmother who has changed careers from accountancy to the resident composer for the New Zealand Secondary School and the New Zealand Youth choirs. These were presented by Associate Education Minister Tim Macindoe at a special ceremony at Parliament in Wellington.