Maori students 'from the four winds' given welcome

Te Roopi Maori president Taylor Terekia addresses first-year Maori students at Otakou marae...
Te Roopi Maori president Taylor Terekia addresses first-year Maori students at Otakou marae yesterday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The University of Otago has held its largest welcome yet for first-year Maori students.

More than 250 students attended the university's start-of-year powhiri yesterday morning.

A university spokesman said he was pleased with the record turnout at Otakou marae.

"It's fantastic to see so many tauira Maori [Maori students] who want to engage with local tikanga and mana whenua.

"We are really proud that more and more Maori students are choosing to come to a University that has a significant success rate for tauira Maori, and most importantly has a large support network to ensure students have the best chance of success.''

It was also fantastic to see students using the powhiri as a starting point for forays into the Maori world as well as into the academic world, he said.

Figures for the number of Maori students for 2019 are expected to be available in April. Last year, Maori student numbers hit at least 12 % of the domestic roll.

The university is aiming for population parity, which will be reached when numbers hit about 14.7%.

During the ceremony, guest speaker Koro Pita Kara, an Otago-based Tainui elder, said he was ``so happy to see so many students from the four winds come to Otago''.

"In the 1880s, my tipuna said, 'You can't fight Pakeha, but you can get educated','' Mr Kara said.

"The pen is mightier than the sword, and it is great to see more and more of our tauira with degrees, master's and PhDs.

"They are the people running our runanga and making a difference.''

Office of Maori Development director Tuari Potiki told students it was ``a privilege and an honour '' to welcome them.

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

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