National | Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19

Rangatahi initiative lifting Māori uni student morale

Te Puni Kōkiri Waikato's rangatahi-led initiative, Koroī, has been supporting rangatahi initiatives across the region. One of the ideas they have supported through this Covid-19 pandemic is an online initiative that is being led by the University of Waikato's newest rōpū Māori, Te Kāuru, which aims to help their members keep their minds on their studies and their morale up.

It has been six weeks since students have been in a classroom, however, Te Kāuru's Luke Moss (Ngāti Maniapoto) and his team have made learning possible by going digital.

"It's sort of like a virtual library I guess which we're trying to run in terms of having weekly events for people to try and come to and also a place to study quietly with other people."

This is an online platform that is keeping Māori students connected.

It includes "sharing academic materials from our lectures within the faculty," Moss says.

"The second one is we did a weekly Wednesday wero to piki wairua and just allow rangatahi to go on and sort of escape their bubble virtually. And the third one was a kaupapa called 'The Grind' in which we run daily wānanga from 10am to 12pm Monday to Friday."

Keeping motivated during the pandemic can become a strain for many students.

"It's hard to stay focused on university work, especially mentally and all those kinds of things," Rangipare Belshaw-Ngaropo (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Te Rarawa) says.

"There's still a lot of struggles for our tauira Māori at university in terms of trying to have that whānau vibe on an online platform," Moss says.

While keeping up with the academics is important for many students, this initiative also provides some financial relief for those students in need.

"When we were put into level 4, some of the students were unable to pay for their bills and those sorts of things. Therefore, they (Te Kāuru) decided to gift some food vouchers and those sorts of essential things to keep them afloat," Belshaw-Ngaropo says.

"That $50 goes a long way in terms of buying them kai or snacks for their study," Moss says.

This pandemic has proven that there is room for improvement.

"We need to think about flexibility not only for during this pandemic but for all the hardship people are facing across the world," Belshaw-Ngaropo says.

Te Kāuru will continue their online initiative until the university opens its doors again.