Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship – scholars of yesteryear and today

Issue: Volume 93, Number 7

Posted: 5 May 2014
Reference #: 1H9ctT

Meet recipients of Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship of the past and present.

Aperahama Hurihanganui: work-life balance

Aperahama Hurihanganui of Te Arawa, Ngāti Porou, and Ngāti Ira, is studying a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) at the University of Waikato. He was granted a Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship last year, and he says that the acknowledgement has made him even more determined to repay the investment in his success.

Aperahama’s goal is to move into sports law on graduation, where he sees himself - a passionate and high-achieving sports person - as a perfect fit to help other athletes negotiate the business side of a competitive vocation. He is also interested in family law, and says he may one day go back to pursuing this line of academic discipline. In this respect, Aperahama can see a possible future combining his language, tikanga, and leadership skills toward making a positive difference to his people.

“[If at some stage I pursue the family law path] I would want to work in issues of domestic violence. I want to see Māori children attend school with a smile on their face, a tummy full from breakfast, eyes wide awake from a good night’s sleep, and their whānau present at the end of year prizegiving.”

For now, though, Aperahama is focused on transferring his passion for sport to academic success, while remaining mindful of his belief that mind and body complement and support each other.

“I try to perform well academically, making sure I attend all lectures and tutorials, and do the best I can with assignments. I know that I get a lot of support from my family, and from scholarships to get me here at university, so I want to make sure that this investment isn’t wasted.

“On the other side, I stay fit and healthy through sport. I’m always involved with training and nutrition, because to me all of this helps with my studies. I start the day out with a gym session and then go lock myself up in my office and do some study. When I get fatigued, I go back outside for a run. Both contribute to each other in terms of overall wellbeing.”

Wellbeing to Aperahama goes beyond the mental and physical and extends to the emotional and spiritual, or whatever you like to call the intangible stuff. He stays involved with kapa haka, maintains his strong fluency in te reo Māori, and remains deeply connected to his marae.

The Ngārimu VC 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund Board is not the only august organaisation to acknowledge Aperahama’s fledgling achievements and far-reaching potential. He is also a recipient of the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship in recognition of his excellence in rugby, waka ama, kapa haka, academia, and leadership. On a more grassroots level, the wise heads of Te Arawa recognised a stand-out role model, too, and encouraged Aperahama to get involved with those young people that he could help to steer toward similar success.

The key to his success thus far, says Aperahama, is three-fold: whānau, dedication, and work-life balance. He plans to take this formula forward into a bright future. Another quality that he’d like to instill in young Te Arawa, and in young Māori all over the country, is passion for one’s own pursuit of excellence.

“You will always have the motivation to pursue something that you’re passionate about. I kind of went the opposite way for a while; I was all about joining the Navy for a long time. I liked the lifestyle, the discipline, the routine. I had come out of boarding school and was used to that way of life. I knew, though, that I had other strengths. I was academically able, for example. I never thought that I would do as well at university as I could do in the Navy, but I had lots of people in my iwi who inspired the courage in me to go for it. I took the leap, and put in the hard yards, and here I am.

“In order to have the confidence to take that big leap, you must have the support of whānau and community, and I feel really sorry for young Māori that don’t have that.”

Mark Milroy: inspirational whānau

Mark Milroy is currently a partner at Foster and Milroy law firm of Hamilton, specialising in Māori land law. He was a Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund scholar in 1979. Although he knew nothing about the scholarship at the time, his headmaster at Auckland’s Kelston Boys High School submitted an application without his knowledge. Given his strong academic ability, and success on the rugby field, perhaps the far-sighted headmaster didn’t feel that Mark needed a say in whether he became a role model or not!

In fact, Mark comes from a family of role models. His father moved the family to Auckland in the early 1970’s to attend Auckland University. This was certainly not a typical path for a young Māori man to follow at that time, says Mark.

Mark’s elder sister Stephanie would likely have been a recipient had she applied for a Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Scholarship, says Mark; she is now a judge and has been a sitting member of the Waitangi Tribunal, as is his father, now a professor. Mark’s nephew Kiharoa Milroy featured in The New Zealand Education Gazette last year as a Ngārimu scholar, and this year Kiharoa’s partner Jaime Huia Rolleston featured in these pages, another recipient.

The achievements of the Milroy family reinforce what all Ngārimu and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship scholars have told the Education Gazette: the aspirations of young Māori are attainable particularly to those who are lucky enough to have the unconditional support and encouragement of whānau.

It helps too, says Mark, having parents who won’t get off your case.

“We are a family of nine kids, and we were all pushed to achieve by my parents. We weren’t a well off family by any means. We lived in a state house for a lot of my young life. We had no idea what wealth was really, because when you don’t have it you don’t miss it. My parents, particularly my mother, was influential in ensuring that we tried hard at school. There was a degree of competition among our family, and my mother made sure she was right up with what was happening at school! My father was a great role model too, because he went to university. So for us to go to university was a natural progression.”

That competitive streak has served Mark well over the years, and it wasn’t just his siblings who pushed him to achieve.

“Speaking for myself, being the only Māori in my high school class, I was quite determined to compete with the Pākehā boys. I think I was able to succeed academically through a combination of the confidence and determination that my parents’ encouragement gave me, along with a pretty strong competitive streak. I had the mind-set that achieving academically isn’t something extraordinary.”

Mark says that when he went to school, there simply wasn’t the same expectation of success placed upon young Māori as there is today. Again he points to the fact that he was lucky to have such strong support.

When seen in context, Mark’s achievements perhaps deserve even deeper respect. It’s fair to say that among economically deprived communities, things like attending university weren’t (and still aren’t) seen as ‘usual’. It takes a particularly strong person like Mark, and his father, to go beyond the ceiling of expectation and remain steadfast to a goal of academic achievement, when all your mates are travelling a different path.

After graduation from Auckland University, Mark took up work at a Queen Street law firm, where he remained for three years before making the move back to the Waikato. His timing was poor however: the stock market crash of 1987 meant that jobs for young lawyers were thin on the ground. He managed to find employment at Inland Revenue, and after rising through the ranks, decided that he needed more time with family. This led to Mark setting up a private practice, which is now a partnership.

When asked what qualities are required for young Māori to realise their aspirations, our conversation comes back yet again to whānau, and of course in Māori culture the delineation between immediate kin and wider tribal group is less defined. It’s a question of adjusting our mind-set, says Mark.

“I don’t think any of my family is particularly proud as such of our achievements. We just look at it as something natural, that we’ve earned of course, but it’s nothing that’s beyond the grasp of anyone else. There’s lots of smart and capable Māori people out there that either don’t take their opportunities, or for one reason or another take another path. It takes determination, single-mindedness and commitment to succeed I think.

“There’s been a change of mind-set I believe, that began during my father’s generation. One of our tribal leaders, John Rangihau, was very influential in ensuring that young Tūhoe reached for academic success back in those days. And our tribal leaders of today want to see our people succeed too, in a way that can embed success as an expectation among our people.”

BY Jaylan Boyle
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 11:44 AM, 5 May 2014

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