Ministry of Education announces support for Pūhoro STEM Academy

Luke August, Ngāti Hauiti, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, with Associate Minister for Māori Education Kelvin Davis.

The Associate Minister for Māori Education Kelvin Davis has announced $2.97 million in funding that will be rolled out over three years for the Māori STEM academy developed at Massey University which will see thousands of rangatahi able to access the groundbreaking Pūhoro programme.

The Pūhoro STEM Academy has become a transformational springboard for Māori secondary students providing a pathway towards tertiary study and potential careers in science and engineering.  Since it started at Massey University in 2016, the academy has grown to cover 1000 students across five regions (Kāpiti, Hawkes Bay, Manawatū, South Auckland and Christchurch).

The additional support from the Ministry of Education will further boost capacity for the programme and allow it grow to cover 5000 students across the country.

In making the announcement at Massey University in Palmerston North today, Minister Davis said through Pūhoro, the Ministry will actively strengthen rangatahi engagement and success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and consciously guide their line of sight towards the diverse and vibrant opportunities that STEM capability can offer.

“Our Government is committed to improving the outcomes and experience of Māori learners and their whānau. This partnership with Pūhoro supports that commitment and will see a lift in Māori achievement in STEM areas. The programme’s results have been impressive and the impact of Pūhoro is a story of Māori educational success,” Kelvin Davis says.

The Pūhoro STEM Academy was set up in response to concerning statistics for rangatahi Māori NCEA achievement in the sciences and mathematics. It works directly with secondary school students and their whānau providing students with kaupapa Māori mentoring, tutoring and wānanga along with experiential field trips to help them navigate career pathways into science and technology related industries. Within a year of establishment the programme was hailed a success with Pūhoro students passing NCEA at or above the national pass rates. Since then, the programme has not been able to keep up with the demand from students wanting to join.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the university is proud an initiative seeded, nurtured and proven at Massey will now expand further to support the educational trajectories of rangatahi and whānau throughout the country. 

“To see Māori students take their rightful place within the fields of science, engineering and technology is a positive demonstration of our aspiration to be Te Tiriti led and Massey’s commitment to improve educational outcomes for iwi, hapū and whānau.”

Director of Pūhoro STEM Academy, Naomi Manu says through a kaupapa whānau approach to STEM education for Māori, rangatahi are reminded that STEM competency is inherent in their DNA. “They only need to look to Māori cultural narratives to be reminded of the fact that our tīpuna were engineers, experts in computational thinking, scientists and mathematicians.”  She says the programme’s primary focus on identity helps rangatahi to connect better with curriculum content and has seen Pūhoro students enjoy achievement that is either on par with or exceeds that of non-Māori in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. “Pūhoro student tertiary transitions, at degree level, are 51% above national averages for Māori school leavers and the Ministry support will help accelerate change and further the rangatahi, whānau and iwi aspirations” says Ms Manu.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Māori, Professor Meihana Durie, says the announcement comes at an important time for the programme, “The additional boost for Pūhoro today recognises the ongoing puāwaitanga, or fruition of this initiative in ways that also recognises the rapid and growing demand from rangatahi Māori across STEM related areas of study.”  

Associate Minister for Māori Education Kelvin Davis with students, teachers, whanaū and members of the Pūhoro STEM Academy.