Maori are under-represented at New Zealand universities and more support services are needed, a study says.
The Otago University study found nearly half of recent Maori graduates are the first in their immediate family to attend university, one third are parents and 70 percent are female.
The Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand is investigating the employment, health and social outcomes of more than 8700 graduates from the eight New Zealand universities.
Maori were under-represented as graduates making up 7 per ent of the sample, and less than 6 percent of postgraduates, despite Maori constituting 15 percent of the population.
"Maori graduates are critical for Maori futures and the future of New Zealand," lead author Dr Reremoana Theodore says.
"We know that higher education is associated with benefits to the individual graduate, such as employment and better health, and to their communities, such as high rates of community service and reduced poverty."
Priority areas to improve Maori participation include: support services for Maori students, more Maori staff, targeted research funding and increased Maori research capability, and Maori participation and governance policies and strategies.
"This requires a whole of university approach to supporting Maori success with adequate government support to further improve outcomes," Dr Theodore said.
Many Maori graduates, particularly those who are the first graduates in their families, want to to make a difference to society and the Maori community, GLSNZ co-director Dr Karen Tustin says.
"Future follow up of these graduates at two, five and 10 years post-graduation will enable us to determine how these intentions are realised."
The research is published in the international journal Higher Education Research and Development.
WHAT MAORI ARE STUDYING: