Dr Hare Puke Scholarship winners advance Māori leadership in tertiary education

Hare Puke Scholarship winners Priscilla Davis Ngati and Tania Oxenham stand outside Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae
Hare Puke Scholarship winners Priscilla Davis-Ngatai (left) and Tania Oxenham (right) outside Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae at Wintec 

Wintec’s prestigious Dr Hare Puke Māori Leadership Scholarship has been awarded to two deserving recipients this year. 

Tania Oxenham (Ngāpuhi, Waikato-Taniui, Ngāti Pikiao) and Priscilla Davis-Ngatai (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu), were jointly awarded the scholarship due to their strong and innovative applications that aim to drive Māori student success and leadership at Wintec. 

The scholarship was established in 2008 as a way for Māori staff to continue the legacy of Wintec’s late kaumātua Dr Hare Puke. With a combined value of $15,000, the award enables staff to focus on furthering their leadership and management skills. 

Tania Oxenham, a Māori Learning Advisor with Te Kete Kōnae, part of Wintec’s Māori and Pasifika Learning Support Centre, says “It is a real privilege to receive the scholarship. It means so much to all of us, and the award represents Hare’s mana and his skills.” 

One of her goals for the scholarship is to develop an online preparation study skills course to help Māori and Pasifika learners prepare for tertiary study.  

“Students operate in that digital space because they have to, and not always because they want to. It’s not culturally specific and some students haven’t enjoyed the experience.  After Covid-19, I thought – how can we make that space culturally responsive and authentic to Māori and Pasifika learners? For example, how would whakawhanaungatanga work in the digital space? 

“I’ll be using this time to research what other institutions are doing in this domain for Māori and Pasifika students.  That is, what practices can we learn, adapt and transfer to our own online courses for it to be culturally responsive.” 

Oxenham also hopes to write and present a conference paper on Wintec’s successful Student to Student Tuakana-Teina programme, which is underpinned by Tuakana-Teina philosophy. At a basic level, the Tuakana-Teina approach pairs an experienced/knowledgeable student (tuakana) with a less experienced student (teina) to share support, guidance, and knowledge.  This is expanded on further in the programme. 

“We piloted this model in 2018 with positive results. From the research and feedback, students value spending time with and learning from their peers.” 

The successful results of this programme were to be presented at this year's World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education (WIPCE).  As the event was cancelled due to Covid-19, Oxenham hopes to find alternative ways to share this practice and results. 

Priscilla Davis-Ngatai, Academic Coordinator for the Applied Work-Integrated Learning Programme at the Wintec Centre for Business & Enterprise,  plans to continue training and development in Māori governance. She will also produce a guideline for establishing a student-focused Māori leadership programme at Wintec. 

“As Māori we ensure we give back to the community. It’s who we are. It’s a built-in leadership from when we’re young and working on the marae. We’re constantly learning from others and now I’m at a stage when I can give back. It’s a reciprocal relationship.” 

The Māori leadership programme will begin in Davis-Ngatai's area of expertise, Wintec’s Centre of for Business and Enterprise.  

“It will be a space for us to help our Māori students realise their leadership potential. We hope to be able to bring Māori leaders here to Wintec to engage with our students. Or to take our students to those communities. We have many Māori leaders in the community that people can learn a lot from.  

“Māori students gain academic knowledge here at Wintec. The leadership programme can help invest in their Māori leadership potential.”  

Davis-Ngatai hopes to integrate her experience growing up at Tau Henare marae in Pipiwai where she was raised with her whānau and kaumātua. 

“Our ancestors were really visionary. They created intergenerational leadership. When you were a young child, you may have just been playing at the marae but you were learning. It’s a never-ending space for Māori, and you can incorporate these learnings into everyday life. 

“Many Māori learn from experience. We absorb that experience and transfer it from a tacit to an explicit knowledge. Our strength is in building relationships.” 

Wintec Executive Director Māori, Hera White says “From my perspective both Tania and Priscilla exemplify leadership in their respective areas. They show a strong desire to develop this further and put these into useful practice in their respective roles particularly with students and their colleagues.” 

About Dr Hare Puke: 

Dr Hare Puke was Wintec Kaumātua for more than thirteen years. Hare Puke provided cultural advice to Wintec and to many other organisations in the Waikato, including the Hamilton City Council and the University of Waikato. The Hare Puke Leadership scholarship for Māori staff was established in his honour in 2009.