“Just So Science” – The Whanau that Learnt

By Elf Eldridge 04/05/2011


I’ve mentioned Te Ropu Awhina several times in my first few posts, so I just want to draw some attention to them, briefly explain who they are and why they’re important in a scientific context! Awhina started in 1999 as a group of like-minded individuals at Victoria University in Wellington, connected by their kaupapa of producing Maori and Pacific scientists, engineers, mathematicians, designers and architects. Specifically by promoting:

…high expectations, high aspirations and high achievements, collective success and reciprocity, and success in two worlds.”

Why was this necessary? Because Maori and Pacific are grossly under-represented in STEM subjects at tertiary level.

Awhina whanau 2010
Awhina whanau 2010

Awhina has arms both on and off campus. The on-campus arm aims to assist those students already at university whereas the off-campus wing addresses low recruitment numbers by doing numerous outreach activities to both schools and communities. By increasing interest in STEM and also making it more accessible to a wider audience Awhina is increasing both degree enrollments and completions.

At its heart, this is what Awhina is about – bringing together communities to support progress right from primary school through to Post-graduate level. It’s kaupapa base allows it to be inclusive, drawing talent not only from Maori and Pacifica groups but from Pakeha and Asian as well. So with that said, the best thing about Awhina is that it actually changes things, it allows individuals to actually make a difference simply by talking to people and showing them what your passionate about. Also – it’s just a huge amount of fun!

I’ve said enough now- just the bare bones – but if you’re interested take a look at some of the presentations here to find out more! Or if you want to get involved – just get in touch!