Science academy to open for Maori students

Aerospace engineer Mana Vautier (Supplied)
Aerospace engineer Mana Vautier (Supplied)

A science academy focusing on Maori secondary school students is set to launch next year.

The academy will aim to "foster students along their journey to a science career", in the form of extra fortnightly tutoring, laboratory space for schools and field trips.

Massey University, with support from Te Puni Kokiri, will be launching the Massey Science Academy – Puhoro for students in year 11 through to university.

The university will select 15 year 11 students interested in science from five Manawatu secondary schools – Manukura, Hato Paroa, Palmerston North Boys High School, Awatapu College and Feilding High School.

Aerospace engineer Mana Vautier, who has worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), will officially launch the academy next year in Palmerston North with former NASA astronaut Colonel Rick Searfoss.

"I especially like the 'hands on' aspect of field trips, lab work and career exposure," he says.

"There are so few Maori in science. We want to create an environment and a culture of wanting to achieve and not understating your significance," says Massey University assistant vice-chancellor Maori and Pasifika Dr Selwyn Katene.

Palmerston North Boys High School science teacher Stacey Lambert says there is a large decrease of Maori pupils choosing to take science when the subject becomes an option, and not compulsory for students.

"Both tertiary providers and industry are screaming out for Maori science pupils and graduates," he says.

The Puhoro programme is funded by Massey University and Te Puni Kokiri with support from the Palmerston North City Council, Te Tuma Paeroa and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

3 News