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Vol. 78 No. 1-4 (2022)

Taku teina, tōku rangatira. Recruitment, development and retention of Māori and Pasifika in science

January 23, 2023


The tuākana-teina (older-younger sibling) relationship is one of reciprocity that empowers leadership and support (Amopiu 2019). In response to the struggles of Māori and Pasifika students within educational institutions, the tuākana-teina relationship has been incorporated to enhance their cultural and academic well-being (Bishop and Glynn 2003; Callaghan et al. 2018; Oetzel et al. 2021; Parr 2016). In 1991, based upon this philosophy, Professor Michael Walker began the Tuākana programme within the School of Biological Sciences at Waipapa Taumata Rau, the University of Auckland. This paper examines the role of the Tūakana Biology programme in the recruitment, development and retention of Māori in Science at Waipapa Taumata Rau. Drawing from data and experiences of the programme from its inception to current day students, a secondary data analysis was conducted. Here we identify key components that make Tuākana Biology a success and challenges that restrict its implementation. We found the cultural space and community provided by Tuākana enhances Māori and Pasifika recruitment, development, and retention, positioning Tuākana Biology as a potential solution to Māori and Pasifika success within academia. Lack of funding, staffing capacity, and access to student data are the challenges the programme looks to overcome to realise its full potential. 


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