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 “The Pathway of Rehua, who is the guardian of sacred knowledge, and is symbolic of achievement and the pursuit of knowledge”.

At the time of the Ngäi Tahu Claim Settlement in 1998, the outlook for Mäori higher education in Te Waipounamu was bleak. Student achievement levels were low, tertiary institutions were confused about how to meet their Treaty of Waitangi obligations, and – most ominously – the number of Mäori students going into tertiary education was on the decline throughout the rohe.

Dr Te Maire Tau (Ngäi Tüähuriri) worked on the claim or Te Kerëme, which was settled in 1998. He is now the Director of the Ngai Tahu Research Centre at Canterbury University and recalls educators such as Frank Woods (the then Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University), John Scott (CEO at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology), and Ian Hall of the Christchurch College of Education who all realised their institutions were facing similar problems when it came to Mäori.  Academic leaders got together with Te Rünanga representatives and decided to set up Te Tapuae o Rehua.

The name translates as The Pathway of Rehua, who is the guardian of sacred knowledge, and is symbolic of achievement and the pursuit of knowledge.  Its aims were to increase Mäori participation and achievement in tertiary education and to ensure high-quality course content for Mäori tertiary students.

By bringing the tertiary education providers together, Te Tapuae became a powerful forum for collaboration and dialogue. It was neutral ground where ideas and initiatives to boost Mäori educational opportunities and achievement could be discussed and more importantly, shared. At a time of reform in the tertiary education sector, when universities and polytechnics were being forced to compete for students, Te Tapuae asked these South Island institutions to come together and work collaboratively to support Mäori development.

Te Tapuae has played an important role in the administration of the grants and scholarships available to Ngäi Tahu and other Mäori students. From 1998 to 2012, Te Tapuae handed out almost $3.5 million in scholarships.  Te Tapuae was severely affected by the Canterbury earthquakes in 2012.  Part of these changes saw the partnership move away from administering scholarships to focus of managing collaborative projects between its partners.  Since then Te Tapuae has been successful at establishing a broad range of collaborative projects and initiatives focused on Maori social change and educational success. Collaborating for Maori success is the core of what Te Tapuae does today.


Included exerts first published in Te Karaka‘s 40th Anniversary edition. Edited 2015.