National | Scholarship

Four young Māori earn scholarships for ivy league education

Harvard University. Photo / Jacob Rus

The academic dreams of four extraordinary Māori students from across the country have taken a giant leap forward with the naming of this year’s Te Ara a Kupe Beaton Scholarship winners.

The four winning students came out on top of 180 applicants to walk away with scholarships worth $25,000 each to help them gain admission to top global universities.

This year’s winners come from Rotorua, Whangārei and Inglewood in Taranaki, and all are intending to head to the United States to study, including at prestigious ivy league universities.

Luke Westrupp from Rotorua Boys' High.

Luke Westrupp from Rotorua Boys’ High School intends to study politics and international relations at either Yale or Harvard.

“To be a Māori international relations graduate of an ivy league university will not only benefit me but indigenous peoples around the world,” he says.

“My dream is to see the next generation of rangatahi Māori taking the stage in global decision-making. Our unique view provides agency for all indigenous people around the world. It only takes one domino to set off a chain, which I believe will be created here.”

Luke says that 80 per cent of the students at his kura, Rotorua Boys’ High School, are Māori and this has given him a unique insight to the potential of young Māori.

“Being Māori at our school is our superpower. We’re encouraged to be the best that we can be and always believe in our potential, whether it’s academic, cultural, community or sporting aspirations.”

Erini Fruean, head girl from Inglewood High School.

Erini Fruean, head girl from Inglewood High School in Taranaki, has a similar dream. The Year 13 student has mixed Māori, Greek and Samoan heritage and is the great grand-niece of New Zealand’s first Māori university graduate, Sir Āpirana Ngata.

Fruean says she will explore her options for a specific degree and dedicate herself to the admissions process. She says studying at one of the best universities in the world will enable her to give back to the local Māori and Pasifika communities in Inglewood and across Taranaki.

“I wouldn’t turn away an opportunity to study at Harvard Law. However, I want to be sure I can benefit my people here in New Zealand. I hope to gain clarity on the area of expertise that would best utilise my interests in the arts, speaking and writing as well as ensuring I will be able to make an impact on my community in New Zealand. I wasn’t considering Colombia until Tai Renner [a past Te Ara a Kupe Beaton scholar] suggested it, so now it’s an option for me,” she says.

“My goal is to inspire other young Māori and Pasifika students to aim for a higher education and seek opportunities that may otherwise seem impossible.”

M’lago Morris from Whangārei Boys’ High School.

M’lago Morris from Whangārei Boys’ High School would also like to study in the US - his sights are set on New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The Year 13 student recently won an award at the Shakespeare Festival in Wellington for his re-interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

“My ultimate goal is to become a world-renowned stage director bringing Māori and New Zealand culture to theatres and screens around the globe. There is a lot I can do for our community by using my skills to communicate the struggles we face with racism, socio-economic hardships, our long rough history with colonisation, substance abuse, physical violence, mental health, and so much more that is affecting our country and more importantly our rangatahi.

“This scholarship will help achieve greatness for myself, my country and my people.”

Jared Lasike from Rotorua Boys' High.

The fourth scholarship winner, the second this year from Rotorua Boys’ High School, intends to study medicine at either Harvard or Johns Hopkins University.

Jared Lasike says that while the scholarship will undoubtedly benefit him personally, using it to give back to his community matters the most. “This scholarship is a stepping stone for me to start my journey of change and reform. The health sector must change, and it must change in the way that some education sectors have changed.”

“I am fortunate to have attended a kura where I see the unapologetic acceptance and integration of culture into our daily education. Teachers and students alike learn and understand the significance of pepeha, mihi, haka and waiata as well as proper tikanga.

“I want to take the experience I have had in education and attempt to replicate it in the field of medicine. My vision for healthcare is a system in which Western medical practices are carried out with the integration and acceptance of Māori and Pasifika practices.

“My holistic education has greatly empowered me academically; I believe a similar, more holistic approach to healthcare would undoubtedly save many more lives.”

This year’s Te Ara a Kupe Beaton Scholarship winners join 30 previous recipients who’ve been awarded a total of $725,000 of education services.

The scholarship, which is in its seventh round, was founded by Crimson Education with the aim of supporting Māori high school students to gain admission to top-ranked global universities.

Past winners have been admitted to top US universities including two to Harvard, one to Duke University, one to Columbia, and a highly coveted 80 per cent tuition-fee scholarship for a Mt Holyoke student-athlete.

Last year the scholarship expanded to help young New Zealanders with Pacific heritage to advance their studies and secure their top university admissions.

- NZ Herald