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Māori and Pacific alumni success celebrated at Cultural Intelligence Evening

05 December 2017
Cultural Intelligence Evening
L to R: Steve Roberts, Aroha Armstrong, Tūmanako Faaui, Rhys Faleafā, Reece Moors

The inaugural Cultural Intelligence Forum held in October brought together over 120 Māori and Pacific students and alumni to discuss and understand the value of being Māori or Pacific in the workplace and professional environment.

Opened by the Director of the Schools Partnerships office, Dennis Mātene, and the Dean of Engineering, Professor Nicolas Smith, the evening had three invited speakers address the forum. Rhys Faleafā, Interim Executive Director of Māori and Pasifika internship programme TupuToa, spoke about the valuable skills Māori and Pacific students bring to the corporate environment, a sentiment echoed by Māori Economy Adviser Reece Moors in his presentation. Reece’s talk centred on the future of engineers and communities within that space, and the future of the Māori economy. To round out the presentations, the Group Manager for Māori economy for Callaghan Innovation, Aroha Armstrong spoke about the innovation inherent within Māori and Pacific communities, and how innovation can be encouraged within both these communities and in wider industry.

Students then had the opportunity to network with alumni over dinner, and learn more about the benefits Māori and Pasifika bring to industry.

Tūmanako Faaui, Student Experience Adviser in the Faculty of Engineering, says there seems to be a huge appetite for events of this nature between students and alumni. “The event came together in response to murmurs we were hearing from some Māori and Pacific students about their concerns regarding gaining employment after graduation. The invited speakers and alumni present highlighted the very real benefits and skills that they can bring as a Māori or Pacific engineer in the workplace and community. It was very exciting to see the students experience that for themselves, and to be in an in environment outside our communities where we weren’t the minority”.

Professor Nicolas Smith comments that the evening was fantastic, and “a great opportunity to reconnect with so many of our successful Māori and Pasifika alumni who have done remarkable things since graduation. We hope they will now continue to partner with us to support the next generation of engineers”.

In the Faculty of Engineering, Māori and Pacific students currently make up 3.6% and 3.9% of the student body respectively. This number is echoed in industry, with a minority of Māori and Pacific engineers. The Faculty of Engineering is seeking to change these statistics and have a Māori engagement strategy lead by the Faculty’s Kaiarahi Catherine Dunphy that includesa variety of initiatives including dedicated Tuakana tutorials, the Māori and Pacific targeted entry scheme, and dedicated Māori and Pacific Student Support Advisers within the Faculty amongst many others. 

This event will be the first of many, according to Faaui. “The hope is that this event is only the start of a successful relationship between students, alumni and faculty, with bigger and better things to come”.