Makarena Te Moanapapaku-Stephens is thrilled that winning an EIT Year 13 Scholarship has allowed her to move to the "big city" of Gisborne to study art at Toihoukura – EIT's School of Māori Art and Design on the Tairāwhiti Campus.
Makarena (Ngāti Maniapoto) grew up in the small King Country town of Te Kuiti and attended the nearby Te Wharekura o Maniapoto.
She won the scholarship last year and is now studying for a Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts (Toi o Ngā Rangi) at Toihoukura.
The Year 13 Scholarship covers one year of tuition fees and any course-related costs that have been approved to be included as part of the scholarship.
Currently the Government Fees Free policy covers the fees for the first year of study and this scholarship covers the student's second year of study.
Applications are open to Year 13 students from Hawke's Bay or Tairāwhiti/Gisborne (Hick's Bay to Taupō and Dannevirke), or Year 13 students nationwide who apply for the Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts (Te Toi o Ngā Rangi), the Bachelor of Viticulture and Wine Science, or the Bachelor of Veterinary Nursing.
Makarena, 18, says she was told about the scholarship by a teacher at her kura last year.
"I am glad I went for it as it has definitely helped me a lot. I would encourage other people to apply for it as I know it would help them too."
She says that she always wanted to study art after school and has always enjoyed drawing and painting.
While Makarena has dreams of becoming a full-time artist, for now she is happy to concentrate on completing the three-year degree.
An important element of Makarena's art is her cultural heritage.
"It is really important to me because a lot of what I draw links back to me, my upbringing and my tribe.
"My mum does a lot of things on the marae, so I always used to go with her. My dad is really involved in mau rākau and things like that, so I just grew up surrounded by my culture and I love putting it into my work."
While Makarena misses her family back in Te Kuiti, she is enjoying living in Gisborne, where she is flatting with other young people.
"It's so cool being here. It's really big - way bigger than my hometown, but I'm getting used to it and I love being on campus."
EIT Tairāwhiti campus manager Waata Shepherd said it was good to see students from all regions taking advantage of the opportunities that EIT had to offer.
"We are pleased that the Year 13 Scholarship scheme is giving students like Makarena a chance to follow their dreams in Tairāwhiti."