For more than 15 years, the Ngāi Tukairangi Trust has aimed to provide tertiary excellence scholarships to recognise outstanding academic achievement in its shareholders, particularly those studying in their Honours year, their Masters, or PhDs.
Ngāi Tukairangi Trust is an Ahu Whenua Trust whose core business is growing kiwifruit.
Its primary base is in Matapihi, Tauranga, but recently the trustees have expanded their efforts to acquire orchards in Heretaunga, Hawke's Bay and Kerikeri. The whānau who are shareholders are largely drawn from Ngāi Tukairangi hapū members from Hungahungatoroa marae and Whareroa marae communities.
Today, as part of the standard Annual General Meeting process, an award was also provided to Hosea Watson, the recipient of the 2021 Piuna Fisher Tertiary Excellence Scholarship.
Piuna was a well-respected kuia, who lived in Matapihi most of her life, she was an active community member who dedicated a lot of her life to her whānau, hapū and marae endeavours.
She was a fluent te reo Māori speaker, who studied at Matapihi Kura, but went away to practise as a nurse aide in Mangakino, before going home to work in the hospitality field.
Michael Fisher, her eldest son, said his parents taught them many skills and instilled in their children the virtues of hard work, curiosity, and independence. Piuna shared stories about her fondness for kaimoana.
"There is no doubt that she cherished and relished her life, strongly centred as it was around Matapihi, the responsibilities associated with being an astute kuia for our hapū and marae and her whānau - a unique tapestry and enduring legacy of personal and shared feelings, experiences, and relationships", he said.
"Our mother would be pleasantly surprised to have this award recognise her contribution to her community. But, I must say, our marae communities are full of amazing kuia and koroua, such as my mother, who dedicate their lives to making their communities better places to live.
"I am sure every marae in the country can acknowledge several dozen leaders, who held and continue to hold cultural tapestry and mastering of story-telling at the centre of their hearts. I am also sure that, like our mum, singing waiata, performing karanga and being a mentor for our whānau was something she felt proud doing."
Grants committee chairwoman Helen Te Kani-Matenga was pleased to find a recipient for the scholarship as outstanding as Hosea Watson.
"How many of us know whānau studying towards a Masters in Engineering? Isn't that such an amazing degree to strive for in this day and age where companies are demanding these types of skills in their industries. We are very proud to make the award. We are grateful to have the top up made by the Māori Education Trust to enable us to award our recipient $10,000 this year instead of our usual $5000."
Hosea Watson, the Piuna Fisher Scholarship Excellence recipient, is over the moon.
"I feel extremely privileged. The funds will make a huge difference to helping me with costs associated with study."
Watson aims to complete his master's degree next year then work in a research and development engineer role. He wants to undertake a PhD in mechanical engineering. In the future, he aims to support and encourage Māori into studying STEM subjects, in particular engineering.
Watson was grateful for the scholarship and past education grants from the Ngāi Tukairangi Trust and pleased to learn a little more about the kuia, who the scholarship recognises.
The Ngai Tukairangi Trust is commemorating all of the awardees with a memorial publication this year, celebrating all of the scholarship recipients and internships which have been awarded to students over the last 15 years. It will be distributed to whānau at the AGM being held today.