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August 5, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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Te Mana Akonga

E nga mana,
E nga reo
E nga tangata katoa,
Tihei mauriora!

Ko Ngāi Te Rangikoianake me Ngāti Mahuta ōku hapū. Ko Ivy Hapuku Harper tōku ingoa. Ko au te Tumuaki o Te Mana Ākonga.

Te Mana Ākonga is the National Māori Tertiary Students’ Association, and provides a voice for tauira Māori on issues that impact on them within the tertiary-education environment. Born out of the student protest movements of the 1970s, Te Mana Ākonga joins a long line of  individuals and roopu who wanted to change the status quo of tauira. The first tauira who wanted to change the status quo of our people were Ta Apirana Ngata, Te Rangi Hiroa and Maui Pomare. Pioneers of their time. Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan was the first president of The Federation of Māori Students. Whatarangi Winiata was also there. Nga Tama Toa included people like brothers Sid and Moana Jackson, and then we have Te Mana Ākonga. We are whānau-based, and have roopu at all of the universities and some polytechnics. At this stage we are not at wananga, not because we do not want to be but because there is simply not the capacity to support tauira there at the moment. However, that is not to say the benefits we make for tauira Māori at universities and polytechnics do not benefit tauira Māori at wananga.

There are two central aspects of Te Mana Ākonga. The first aspect focusses on assisting roopu in advocacy, enhancing support services for tauira Māori on campus, and keeping roopu informed of issues that impact on them. The second focus is lobbying for change within government. The structure is made up of Kaiarahi (representatives from each roopu). These kaiarahi attend hui throughout the year at which they discuss issues, formulate actions and determine a work programme for the Tumuaki. Major policies and decisions are determined by the Kaiarahi and ratified at the annual general meeting (AGM) held at Te Huinga Tauira o Te Mana Ākonga.

Te Huinga Tauira o Te Mana Ākonga—the National Māori Students’ Conference—is where roopu who are affiliated to Te Mana Ākonga can engage with other tauira and practice core values of whanaungatanga, manaakitanga and te reo me ona tikanga. It is an opportunity for Māori students to nurture and maintain their cultural identity, access social and support networks outside of their institutions, and participate in activities that can enhance and add value to their experiences within the context of their learning.

While Te Huinga Tauira is where the AGM of Te Mana Ākonga is held, it is also the one hui where all tauira Māori can come and engage with other tauira Māori. Te Mana Ākonga provides a national voice on the challenges for tauira in the  tertiary sector and also as members of the wider community.

Ngā mihi.

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