A pōwhiri marked the commencement of studies for the first cohort of Whenua Kura students.
Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri welcomed the students at the event attended by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Hon Steven Joyce at Maahunui Tuarua marae, Tuahiwi on Wednesday 6 August, 2014.
The 14 Māori students, ranging in age from 18-28 years old also received their full-fee scholarships at the event.
Whenua Kura is an iwi-led initiative that includes studying toward Lincoln University qualifications, specialising in land-based studies, work placements on Ngāi Tahu farms, a Māori approach to learning, as well as guidance and support through to employment.
Whenua Kura student Papataitua Harrington said he has been enjoying the Whenua Kura course so far.
“It’s an awesome group with heaps of different personalities – everyone is bringing their own thing to the course.”
He said the students have been assisting with calving, “Getting the calves into the trailer was hard work – it was pretty hectic trying to get the heifers moving!”
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tuarua Lisa Tumahai said the occasion marks the dawning of a new generation of agricultural students who will farm the land in a way that is best practice, upholds Ngāi Tahu values and sustains the environment for future generations.
Lisa Tumahai addressed the Whenua Kura students…
“Today is a new beginning for you, for your career and we believe the future of farming in New Zealand. We need our people to be the best in cutting-edge farming practices as we want to be leaders in agriculture. Ngāi Tahu has set its sights high and we need our future Māori farm leaders to do the same.”
She added the group was likely to be the largest cohort of Māori agricultural trainees in the country and most definitely the largest cohort learning on an iwi-owned farm.
Lincoln University Assistant Vice Chancellor (Communities) and Professor of Indigenous Planning Professor Hirini Matunga said Whenua Kura is helping to link Ngāi Tahu people and Māori people to their land through the industry of dairy farming.
“It’s quite a unique initiative and innovative in the way we are delivering the programme. It’s about dairy training in a Māori context and training up our people to be managers of the family farm.”
Whenua Kura is a partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngāi Tahu Farming and Lincoln University which seeks to grow Māori leadership in agriculture. The Whenua Kura Programme is open to all Māori from ages 18-34. Visit www.whenuakura.co.nz for more information and to register an interest in the January 2015 Whenua Kura programme.