Haukapuanui and Sonny Vercoe are two brothers who were among many Māori who received their degrees at Auckland University's annual Māori graduation held over the weekend.
The ceremony saw students of all ages receive their tohu in various fields. The brothers chose civil and environmental engineering as their area of expertise when they started their tertiary education four years ago.
“Back in kura we really enjoyed mathematics and later on in high school, we did physics, so engineering is the combination of these two subjects,” Haukapuanui says.
His younger brother Sonny says that shifting from reo-based kura kaupapa into mainstream university education was one of the biggest challenges they faced in their journey.
“When you come into university, especially from kura, you go to class and then you go home and often have to look over the work again, so it's like double the workload.”
Sonny (left) and Haukapuanui Vercoe
The former students of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu say they plan to use their newly-acquired degrees to better their community.
“In Aotearoa we have a lot of projects going on that require these skills, so now we can go back to our whānau and advocate for them," Haukapuanui says.
“There's a lot of work to do,” Sonny adds.
“So it's just trying to find your place within all of that work that needs to be done that are useful for whānau, hapū, and iwi.”
Their academic journey is far from over, as they've decided to start their PhD in civil engineering. Haukapuanui will be looking into marae resilience and improving the three water infrastructures for our marae, while Sonny will focus on seismic resilience, assessment and design of Māori building structures.