Four young Northlanders have received scholarships aimed at supporting Maori to gain qualifications that will assist in the growth of their hapu.

Kapua Harris-Otene from Tikipunga High School, Alaska Marsh from Kaitaia College, Nyena Weeds-Kawai from Kerikeri High School and Qianna Titore from Northland College have each won a McDonald's Te Tai Tokerau Scholarship worth $12,500 to study at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) next year.

The scholarship assists Maori students to gain tertiary qualifications that will assist in the economic, professional, and community growth of their hapu.

Miss Harris-Otene, who will be studying a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation, was "thrilled" when she discovered she had received the scholarship.

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"I've always been into sports – volleyball and netball - and I know that I want to continue to study healthy living, especially if I can help prevent obesity in Maori and Pasifika communities."

Miss Harris-Otene, who acknowledged McDonald's for its corporate responsibility in supporting her studies around the topic of nutrition, said obesity was an issue in Whangarei and she hoped to return home to Northland post-studies.

"In 10 years, I hope I'm back in Whangarei with my own business, and giving back to my community," she said.

Miss Weeds-Kawai will also be studying a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation, while Miss Marsh will study a Bachelor of Maori Development, and Miss Titore will be studying a Bachelor of Communication Studies.

The scholarship is AUT's longest running scholarship programme seeing more than 100 awarded to students from Te Tai Tokerau since 1992.

Recipients will receive $5000 in the first year of study to go towards the living costs at AUT'S Akoranga halls where they will flat together in an apartment.

In their second and third year of study they each receive $2500 per year to be used at their discretion - typically it goes towards living and study costs.

The final $2500 is given to the recipients at the completion of their degree to support them with the transition into work - for example buying work clothes, and costs while looking for work.