Haukapuanui Vercoe has created an iwi based solution to the financial hardships faced by Māori students. In a culmination of love and wanting the best for his people, Vercoe has created a Māori scholarship database accessible to all tauira Māori, Māori students, at the University of Auckland.
This student created document is located on the official Facebook page of the University of Auckland Maori Students Association, Ngā Tauira Māori o Tamaki Makaurau. The database is a device to address and alleviate the financial stress that our Māori students experience. It is a uniquely Māori solution to a western capitalistic problem.
The spreadsheet has education grants and scholarships from all over the motu. The scholarships included are majority undergraduate, with some postgraduate opportunities. Haukapuanui alongside other students have included the monetary value of each scholarship, the affiliated hapu and the faculty the grant is awarded to.
The tiresome process included manually searching each iwi/hapū in New Zealand with keywords such as ‘education grant’ or ‘education scholarship’. Vercoe, an engineering student, also credits several current and former students who contributed by adding their respective iwi/hapū grants and scholarships to the database. As this is a document that needs constant updating any iwi/hapū grants and scholarships that can be added to the database will be appreciated. Vercoe calls for more positive attention around such a document, in hopes of assisting more current and prospective Māori students at The University of Auckland.
This student led initiative has had little support and backing by the University and has therefore had to create their own support. With the University failing to recognise the equitable initiatives that could be applied, tauira Māori have taken matters into their own hands by creating avenues of support by themselves. Leaders like Haukapuanui and his team of collators spent hours manually finding and entering these grants into the database in the hopes of helping their fellow students.
What started off as a tool for financial accessibility has come to be used as a tool for tauira to learn of their genealogy and have helped students connect back to their ancestral lands. The database, on the Ngā Tauira Māori Facebook Page, gives Māori students the chance to not only interact with the spreadsheet but other students who affiliate with the same iwi. The scholarship database is not only finding education grants but whāanau too!
Vercoe says, “Although there is financial gain in receiving a grant or scholarship, I believe we have a duty to reciprocate by thanking each iwi/hapū that support us in our educational endeavours.” This ingrained cultural aspect of reciprocity and gratefulness has Māori students conducting themselves in a way that makes them stand out. Giving back to the communities who have given their mokopuna so much ensures humility amongst students and gratefulness towards whanau.
Many tauira today are obtaining their degree for not only themselves but also the iwi and hapū who have raised and backed them on this arduous educational journey. Students like Vercoe understand that in order to progress the hopes and dreams of our people, students need to bring their tertiary learning back home. “We (tauira) should be thinking how we can apply the learnings at University to support our people. We are the living dreams that our ancestors hoped for and envisaged.”
Haukapuanui encourages all eligible students to apply to any and all applicable grants and to keep an eye on the database for developments. Vercoe, alongside the NTM executive team, also reinforced that if students are needing help in applying for scholarships they should come to them with questions.
Initiatives like these set precedence and show the true characteristics of a leader. Students will be using and adding to the database for years to come. Be proud of the mahi you have put forward Haukapuanui, you’ve created something for all of us and we all can’t thank you enough.
2021 NTM Undergraduate Scholarship Database
WHO CAN APPLY: All Students who whakapapa Māori
ELIGIBLE IWI/HAPŪ: Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Porou, Te Tai Tokerau, Te Arawa, Tūwharetoa, Whakatōhea, Ngāti Kea Ngāti Tuara
ELIGIBLE FACULTIES: Arts, Commerce, Creative Arts and Industries, Engineering and Science
WHERE: Ngā Tauira Māori o Tamaki Makaurau Facebook Page