Sixteen outstanding Te Rarawa students have been awarded scholarships worth a total of $42,000.

The Te Rarawa scholarships funding panel chose the recipients after a three-month application process, including one-on-one interviews with short-listed applicants, and it wasn't easy according to panel member Joanne Murray.

"We wanted to hear more about the applicants' aspirations, what drives them, and where they see themselves investing professionally in the future," she said.

"We had such a high calibre of applicants, it was incredibly difficult to choose."

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In selecting the recipients, the panel had set out to invest across a wide range of professional study areas, the students' chosen fields including medicine, engineering, health, law, science, computing and the arts.

Ms Murray said the scholarships programme was designed to develop skills relevant to the rohe that would benefit the iwi in the future.

"We're always interested in supporting students whose area of study aligns with long-term iwi plans. Particularly those who are committed to contributing to their marae, hapū or iwi, with intention to return to the rohe after study."

This year's funding was more than ever before, the value of the scholarships increasing year on year, by 38 per cent since 2015.

"It was particularly important for us this year to increase not only the amount, but also the number of awards distributed," Ms Murray added.

Two students, Te Aroha Pawa (Panguru) and Mana Wihongi (Mitimiti), received the prestigious Tarutaru Ruapounamu awards, named after the founding Te Rarawa tūpuna, while Cynthia Otene received the Dame Joan Metge award, which she will use to complete her PhD in health science at Auckland University of Technology.