Yonel Watene | University of Auckland Foundation Kupe Leadership Scholar

Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Maru, region not known

Master of Education

Māori from lower socio-economic backgrounds, like myself, are more likely to fail in education. Growing up in a lower socio-economic household, I have first hand experience with overcoming inequitable access to educational success. Having failed NCEA Level 3, and later a university entrance certificate during my first year out of school, I also understand the crushing devastation that comes with failing in education. 

On behalf of my whānau, hapū and iwi, I would like to vehemently reject such a future for our tamariki. What I do see is Māori achieving educational success as Māori, and we can achieve this through equitable access to what makes us Māori - our reo, tikanga, and mātauranga - via education. 

My tūpuna signed Te Tiriti with the belief that an authentic partnership with the Crown would bring prosperity to their hapū. I agree with them and the present-day representatives of our hapū and iwi. Māori success is success for all Aotearoa, and we can only truly succeed through kōtahitanga.Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi. 

Sponsor: University of Auckland Foundation

Mentor: Dr Chris Tooley (Ngāti Kahungunu) Dip Tchg, BEd, MA, PhD Camb

CEO for Te Puna Ora o Mataatua, a health and social services provider serving the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Indigenous rights advocate and transformative business leader.

Dr Chris Tooley completed a PhD at Cambridge University focusing on the political philosophy behind self-determination. He holds a strong desire to serve others by investing in and empowering people. In 2002, Chris was awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and in 2020 he won a prestigious Blake Leadership Award.