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May 26, 2014 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira Opinion |
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Money Matters

“Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro nōna te ngāhere,
Ko te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga nōna te ao.”
“The bird that partakes of the miro berry reigns in the forest,
The bird that partakes of the power of knowledge has access to the world.”

Knowledge is the tool that empowers. Nelson Mandela stated that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, yet there are so many obstacles to retrieving our education in the first place. When it comes to university, bills need to be paid, ridiculously over-priced books need to be bought, and the idea of being a poor student becomes a reality. Money holds a huge role in getting through to obtaining your tohu, and this is where scholarships help to ease that pain. But whānau (yes there is a but), scholarships are exclusive and only accept certain people. Surely that makes sense, doesn’t it? The people paying for these scholarships need to justify why they chose a certain applicant over another.

When it comes to Māori-specific scholarships, many controversial arguments arise: Why are there more Māori scholarships? If I’m 1/16th Māori, I can apply, right? (#pureblood) The reasons behind why the scholarship is granted, or where the money comes from, is never considered. Courtesy of government funding, iwi are given the opportunity to help their own succeed in tertiary education, and in return only ask for their qualified rangatahi to come back and help in the community. This opportunity therefore becomes more than an easy way to help Māori get into university; for iwi, it is regarded as an investment that they seek to benefit from.

In today’s society, Māori are forever trying to fight the stereotype of being reliant on state funding (kia ora to the dole), and for some, that could be their only income. When it comes to Māori-specific scholarships, many non-Māori hold a very harsh perspective and wonder what use it has, and just think that we get the typical ‘special treatment’. Is it wrong for every Māori to succeed in education for once? Is it wrong to break the cycle and make Māori a culture that is thriving, instead of just surviving? (#deep)

Apart from learning how to perfectly time a ‘hashtag’ in conversations, tertiary education provides Māori students with an opportunity to determine their future. Scholarships should be seen as motivation for our rangatahi to strive for success. Money shouldn’t be seen as an issue.

Ngāi Tauira, the Māori students’ association, represents the interests of tauira Māori studying at Victoria University. To get in touch, email NgaiTauira@vuw.ac.nz

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