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Indigenous

He Raranga Muka: New $10k scholarships support upcoming Māori data scientists

Seven tauira Māori are the first recipients of a new $10,000 scholarship (He Raranga Muka) as part of a with, by and for wi Māori programme helping to build capability and community in the data space for iwi Māori.

The scholarships are one of seven data analytics capability and capacity-building initiatives developed by Te Kāhui Raraunga through Te Mana Whakatipu — a programme that’s building iwi Māori data capability and capacity across the motu.

The successful tauira were presented with their scholarship at a ceremony in Pōneke.

The scholarships are designed to address and overcome disparities in education and the workforce. They help provide opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in data-related fields that they can then use to support their Iwi.

Data ILG lead technician Kirikowhai Mikaere says the scholarships are a bridge to improving iwi Māori data capability, by removing barriers for future iwi Māori data scientists.

“Ultimately, we want to foster the next generation of iwi Māori data scientists who intricately weave their pūkenga raraunga with their Māoritanga, creating new opportunities for themselves, their whānau, hapū and iwi,” Mikaere says.

“This is a unique and specialised opportunity for tauira, with specific eligibility criteria to ensure the benefits are brought back to iwi.”

Applicants must have completed at least a year of study in a data science or related programme, be endorsed by one of their iwi, and be able to outline how they will use their knowledge to contribute to their iwi or hapū.

Mairangi Campbell (Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe) is one of the seven scholarship recipients. He is studying for a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Law at Victoria University.

Campbell says he was prompted to pursue a career in data science because he firmly believes solid data leads to better outcomes.

“To me, data science represents an empowering pathway, particularly in a field where Māori representation is lacking.”

He Raranga Muka uses muka to symbolise the thread that connects recipients as aspiring iwi Māori data scientists to past, present and future, as well as their iwi, hapū and whānau.

Te Kāhui Raraunga chairman Rahui Papa says scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to participate in other kaupapa that allows them to give back and support others in their journey coming into this space.

“While the near future for our scholarship recipients is careers in data science, the near future for some of our taiohi Māori is where those scholarship recipients are standing right now,” Papa says.

Another recipient, Matthew Hock (Ngāi Tahu), says the scholarship will not only take away some financial pressure and enable him to dedicate more time to learning, but it offers the opportunity to collaborate with the other tauira.

“I have found the sense of community in data science to be limited as there is such a small cohort. This programme is going to be immensely valuable for collaboration, knowledge sharing and building connections.”

Hock is learning 3D modelling, with a goal of animating data and maps.

“This programme will not only improve my data visualisation skills but also open new methods of presenting insight from data effectively, which will support informed decision-making and planning across our iwi interests. In turn, this will enhance resource management to improve sustainability outcomes, guide conservation efforts and inform urban planning initiatives.”

- NZ Herald