We are delighted that 22 of the 39 Pūhoro STEMM Academy (Pūhoro) student interns sponsored by Our Land and Water in the summer of 2021–22 have expressed their commitment to progress into post-graduate study.
Māori are anticipated to make up 30% of the workforce by 2030, but currently represent less than 2% of the scientific workforce. Growing the capability of Māori scientists will support the achievement of Our Land and Water’s objectives, and our national ambitions for freshwater and agriculture. With national freshwater policy now led by the principle of Te Mana o Te Wai, and te Taiao as a core pillar of MPI’s ‘Fit for a Better World' roadmap to 2030, increasing Māori science capability will enable the RS&I sector to authentically centre these te ao Māori concepts in research, and effectively co-develop research with iwi, hapū and communities.
The Māori agri-food sector is significant, with $13 billion in primary sector assets including 30% of all beef and lamb production. This sector also needs the support of Māori scientists to continue to grow value while upholding kaitiaki values, influencing positive change in agribusiness throughout Aotearoa.
Since 2017, Our Land and Water has been a primary funder of Pūhoro, a nationwide programme that supports rangatahi Māori by uplifting their achievement in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and mātauranga Māori). Pūhoro works to demystify tertiary education for its secondary students, with a full-day wānanga each term providing access to university laboratories and teaching, showing that university study is achievable.
Our Land and Water provides base funding for Pūhoro, additional sponsorship for the internship programme, and funds two scholarship opportunities for Master’s students. Our Land and Water's investment has supported the expansion of the Pūhoro programme from 97 rangatahi in 2016, to 1503 in 2022. These rangatahi are actively exploring STEMM education and career pathways from secondary school (year 11–13) into tertiary education and the workforce.
Pūhoro has seen significant success, with students in the programme achieving at or above the national achievement rate of non-Māori students in STEMM subjects. Pūhoro rangatahi are five times more likely to transition to tertiary study in STEMM.
A cost-benefit analysis by Matatihi for ESR in August 2021 found the potential economic benefits of Pūhoro outweigh the economic costs by a factor of more than 14 for secondary students, and 16 for tertiary students. The net benefit for the high school program is greater than $60 million, and $32 million for the tertiary program.
“[Our Land and Water] have been able to bring into these diverse spaces their unique Māori worldview and perspectives, which has enhanced the activities being undertaken.”– Kemp Reweti, COO, Pūhoro Charitable Trust
The Pūhoro internship programme began in 2018, with Our Land and Water as one of the first sponsors. The internship programme enables Pūhoro tertiary (and where possible) Year 13 students to gain exposure to career opportunities in STEMM, and work in science environments while being mentored by people committed to building Māori science capability.
Over four years, Pūhoro has created over 100 paid internships for rangatahi through a diverse network of partners, many in response to calls for internships from Our Land and Water. For the upcoming summer (2022–23) over 65 rangatahi have expressed an interest in participating in the internship programme. Often intern hosts will invite the same Pūhoro intern to return to them, which has created strong multi-year relationships, and further fostered the opportunity and desire for rangatahi to pursue post-graduate study.
“Our partnership with Our Land and Water has opened up these pathways for our rangatahi,” says Kemp Reweti, COO, Pūhoro Charitable Trust. “They have been able to bring into these diverse spaces their unique Māori worldview and perspectives, which has enhanced the activities being undertaken.”
Pūhoro has identified a clear connection between the early and continued investment into the programme by Our Land and Water and the increased appetite of other partners and funders to invest in the Pūhoro kaupapa. Initially hosted by Massey University, Pūhoro is now an independent charitable trust operating by Māori, for Māori and with Māori. The Pūhoro Charitable Trust now receives funding from the Ministry of Education, ESR, and other committed partners.
“Pūhoro has always felt acutely the strength of support and tautoko from Our Land and Water throughout the early formative years of Pūhoro, through to today,” says Reweti. “Our Land and Water has championed our vision, and supported our initiatives and programme unequivocally, from wānanga each term through to career exposure. Having the backing of Our Land and Water had the flow-on effect of solidifying other avenues of support and funding for the Pūhoro kaupapa. It also provided a positive example for other National Science Challenges to explore Pūhoro and understand our mission and objectives.”
This article was prepared as an impact case study for MBIE as part of Our Land and Water's 2021–22 annual reporting requirement.
Photo above: Pūhoro STEMM Academy students in class.