Inspired role models in teaching: Kupe Scholars

Issue: Volume 96, Number 15

Posted: 28 August 2017
Reference #: 1H9eCv

Thirty students have been awarded Kupe Scholarships, which are designed to attract talented Māori and Pasifika to the teaching profession and help them become inspiring teachers and role models.

Each of the Kupe Scholarships awarded in July was based on the recipient’s strong academic success and demonstrable leadership experience in their respective communities. The prestigious awards recognise 30 highly accomplished Māori and Pasifika students and support them to complete their teaching qualification and gain further success teaching in New Zealand.

This year successful applicants included a former Manu Samoa rugby player, a mother and passionate environmentalist, and a physics enthusiast who overcame a head injury to fulfil his academic dreams.

Kupe Scholarship recipients have their course fees paid and receive a $15,000 study allowance, plus professional mentoring and help with finding a job.

Education Gazette meets three 2017 Kupe Scholars.

Joanna Parai

BA (History/Women’s Issues), Porirua, Massey University

Ngāti Kahungungu, Ngāti Whatua, Ngāti Haua

As Joanna Parai was unable to attend the Kupe ceremony, her son Manaaki received the award on her behalf.

Porirua resident Joanna completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and women’s studies last year.

She is currently enrolled at Victoria University’s Graduate Diploma of Teaching Secondary School Programme, and says she’s honoured to be selected for this scholarship.

“It’s a satisfying feeling to be recognised as one who has a willingness and ability to help others but also a precious responsibility to help young Māori learners experience success in education, to help them click, experience struggle and flow, and enjoy the various parts of learning that they are unaware of,” she says.

“I grew up in a Mormon community surrounded by good people who placed a high priority on learning and obtaining a sound education through continuous study. We often heard ‘what, they (so and so) are still studying?’, not realising their desires to be lifelong learners.”

Joanna left school at 17 years old with no qualifications and returned to university at the age of 42.

“The first two years of studying towards my bachelor’s degree were difficult – they demanded that I learn how to learn again. Obtaining a higher education has helped me to enjoy and seek more learning.”

As a teacher, she wants to facilitate a learning environment where students can truly enjoy learning.

“One of my heroines is Emmeline B Wells. This woman lived through some difficult times with hardships and problems rife in her life, yet her daughters, younger nieces and nephews (and there were many) and their friends flocked to be in her company. Why? Emmeline made available to them a place to savour learning. It is this kind of environment and relationship I want to create for my learners and me, where we might struggle to learn, but also enjoy it.”

Saronna Samalaulu Annarosa Auina

MSci (Biosecurity), BSci, Postgrad Dip, Glen Eden, University of Auckland.


Saronna Auina (second from right) with her siblings

“It is without a doubt a great honour and blessing to be awarded this prestigious scholarship,” says Saronna, who is currently studying towards a Graduate Diploma in Teaching Secondary.

“This scholarship represents all those who work effortlessly behind the scene, and in this way I see my achievements as not mine alone, but more importantly, my parents, grandparents, siblings, extended families, church and village.”

A former Kelston Girls’ High School prefect, Saronna holds a master’s degree in science, a bachelor of science, and a postgraduate diploma in science specialising in biosecurity. 

Her master’s thesis title is Impacts of Anoplolepis Gracilipes (Yellow Crazy Ant) on invertebrate communities in Nu’utele, Samoa.

“I am living proof that Pasifika students can succeed in STEM subjects. I am Samoan, studying in the field of science and I am female. This scholarship provides me with the confidence and confirmation that together we – students, families, communities – can make a difference, especially within the Pasifika and Māori communities.

“It is my dream and ultimate goal as an educator to help increase the number of Pasifika and Māori students in STEM subjects, especially in the field of science.

“Pasifika and Māori students are equally gifted and capable of achieving anything that they set their minds to,” she says. 

Laulalatoa-Sammy Seau

BA (Music), Otago University.


Laulalatoa-Sammy Seau receives his award from Associate Education minister Tim Macindoe.

Laulalatoa-Sammy Seau’s personal desire as a student teacher is to influence a generation of young minds.

Born and bred in Invercargill, Laulalatoa-Sammy was educated at Verdon College. He attended Otago University and completed a bachelor’s degree in arts, majoring in music, and has since embarked on a Master of Teaching and Learning at Otago University.

Alongside study, Laulalatoa-Sammy works at Dunedin’s Knox College as a sub-master, a role that has pastoral care responsibility for mostly first- and second- year residents.

Music plays a big role in his life. He is a resident composer for the New Zealand Secondary School and New Zealand Youth Choirs, plus he composes and arranges choral music and is a choir director.

Laulalatoa-Sammy says the award is very meaningful to him.

“This scholarship is a massive blessing to not only myself, but also my family and community. To know that the scholarship is going to support me in my education journey in paying off fees and providing financial assistance means my focus can be on my people back home,” he explains.

“The scholarship gives me a voice to be able to advocate for Pasifika youth and encourage them to higher education. My success is barely my own, but my community’s also, so it does mean a lot to me and my Pasifika community in Invercargill.”

He is keen to start teaching work as soon as he is qualified.

“However, my long-term goal is to work alongside our Pasifika communities, parents and families and give them an insight into what is out there in the big wide world of education,” he says.

“My vision for education is simple: work hard, play hard. Teachers are in a position of influence, and if we can use our influence to better our young learners, then that is all I hope and wish for.

“I hope to use the mana of the scholarship to be able to show that like Kupe the warrior and explorer, we must earn our place in this world, and that comes through hard work, diligence and persistence.”

Applications for the 2018 TeachNZ Kupe Scholarships will open on 4 December 2017

More information on the 2017 TeachNZ Kupe Scholarships and recipients can be found at: link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 28 August 2017

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