Waikato-Tainui partnership

Waikato Tainui

A Waikato-Tainui partnership with TEC aims to increase the number of Māori students enrolling to study engineering, through an iwi-based approach.

Partnership to support student educational achievement

Waikato-Tainui partnered with the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) to support student educational achievement through an iwi-based initiative with local polytechnics and a Waikato-Tainui wharekura (school). Engineering e2e has funded the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development (WTCRD) as part of TEC’s Kura to Career project.
See 2017 article: Kura to Career pilot aims to lift achievement for 200 Māori learners


Collaboration is a key objective – the project aims to create successful engineering education and employment outcomes by working with iwi, engineering employers, tertiary institutions and schools.

Supporting students and teachers to consider engineering career pathways

The project aims to: increase the number of Māori engineering graduates – from Level 3 to 8 – at Wintec, Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of Auckland; and deliver relevant cultural competence micro-credentials for engineering tutors.

This approach reflects the principles of kiingitanga, articulated through and by tribal members of Waikato-Tainui. Māori students strong in their language, culture and identity are encouraged to pursue the mathematics and science NCEA credits required to enrol in and successfully complete an engineering qualification.

The project is focused on supporting secondary school students and their teachers to consider engineering as a potential career pathway. This will involve designing maths and science-based ‘taster’ courses and mentoring – working alongside Māori engineers and mathematicians. It also includes the development of bilingual maths and science micro-credentials specific to engineering, by Māori engineers, the students and their teachers.

Low number of Māori engineering graduates

Māori are underrepresented in Level 2-3 NCEA achievement in maths (statistics and calculus) and science (physics and chemistry). This is reflected in the small number of Māori who go on to study Level 5-8 engineering.

While Māori students face more barriers to enrolling in engineering compared with the general populace, this project provides an iwi-focused opportunity for Year 7-10 Māori students to consider engineering as a potential career. It is also important that Māori students who achieve NCEA 2 or 3 enrol in a diploma or degree programme that matches their higher school qualification.

Making links with employers

The project team has established links with local engineering employers through tribal development projects. This provides a potential opportunity for secondary school students to observe and see engineering in practice. This development work will be assisted by Māori engineers involved in the tertiary sector providing some onsite engineering opportunities.

Our thanks to Cheryl Stephens for her time and advice; if you have any queries please contact

June 2019