Five winning students have walked away with scholarships worth up to $20,000 each to work towards their desired universities.
Te Ara a Kupe Beaton Scholarship was founded in 2017 to encourage young Māori representation on the global stage, to push social equity initiatives and for Māori students to make a lasting impact on the global community.
It includes personalised mentoring and education services to help students get accepted into their dream course at their dream university – be it computer science at Stanford, medicine at Cambridge or business at Yale.
Mentors this year will include former NZ prime minister Sir John Key, and former Mount Maunganui College student Samuel Taylor who was awarded the scholarship in Year 10 and will be returning this year from Harvard University.
Key told the Herald he offered his support for this initiative and wants to show the students that you get out of life what you put in to it.
"Caring for yourself, your family, your colleagues and the environment along the way is a vital attribute for everyone.
"One of my values has always been to leave things in a better space than when I started; have a plan but be prepared for changing routes when better options appear. Have flexibility in your life."
The award ceremony was held Sunday evening, welcoming the five new winners:
• J'adore Harris-Tavita (St Kentigern College, Auckland)
• Blue Simpkins-Jones (Rotorua Boys' High school, Rotorua)
• Maia Royal (Selwyn College, Auckland)
• Ella Arthur (Campion College, Gisborne)
• Koan Hemana (Rotorua Boys' High School)
Previous winners have hailed from New Plymouth, Rotorua, Tauranga and Auckland.
One student, Anais Magner of Aquinas College, secured a scholarship to Mt Holyoke College in the US, with over US$250,000 of on-campus study costs covered.
Crimson Education CEO and co-founder Jamie Beaton, who founded the scholarship programme, said it continues to guide and mentor exceptionally high-calibre students to access priceless education opportunities.
"The Te Ara a Kupe Beaton Scholarship is an opportunity to celebrate Māori high school students who are blazing a trail through high academic performance, brave innovation and exceptional community leadership.
"From an aspiring doctor who wishes to improve health outcomes for the Māori community to a future prime minister with a mission to create inclusive policies to elevate Māori voices, we are proud to see the dreams our recipients hold and the strides that they continue to make."
The Te Ara a Kupe Beaton Scholarship programme is designed to support students with expert guidance and resources that enable them to shine.
The scholarship was created in honour of the adventurous spirit of Kupe, a tribal warrior who journeyed to discover Aotearoa.
Judges in the 2021 scholarship include: Shay Wright, Sir John Key, Jamie Beaton, Karen Ross, David Buisson, Lily Holder McFlinn and Sam Taylor.
About the winners:
Māori and Samoan student is head girl at St Kentigern College. Proud to be of Moana-nui-a-Kiwa (Pacific) descent, Harris-Tavita says "my culture should never be used as an excuse as to why I cannot achieve what I want", fighting the stigma on Polynesians.
"I believe that with my armour made up of my culture, identity, and most importantly my kaupapa, the Te Ara a Kupe Beaton scholarship can add to my weaponry, equipping me with the right tools to 'conquer the world stage'."
Harris-Tavita hopes to study medicine and become a psychiatrist.
"My purpose is to be a pioneer for my people. To show our rangatahi what can be achieved if they just had the courage to believe in themselves, step outside of their comfort zones, and push past the battles they will inevitably encounter."
Simpkins-Jones is a Year 12 student at Rotorua Boys' High School. He dreams of re-writing Māori stereotypes in such a way that it becomes positively impactful. He hopes to study at a top university in the US.
Simpkins-Jones has excelled in leadership roles, academic study and cultural impact work.
Last year he received the General Excellence Award and In Year 9 and 10 he received Dux Litterarum. In 2018 and 2019 he was awarded Top Māori Scholar. Blue has served as class house captain from 2018 to the present.
Simpkins-Jones is looking to build on his leadership skills, create an extracurricular profile, and to "disprove the typical Māori stereotype, that Māori can't do well in this society as they are gang members, drunks and mischievous".
"Today, Māori are frowned upon and only recently are we rebuilding our culture after the ban in the 20th Century of te reo Māori and culture in schools.
"Now with our current development in our language and culture, I want Māori to be depicted in the media as a good thing. Changing the title of Māori gang member to Māori lawyer, doctor, financial adviser, or prime minister."
Year 13 student at Selwyn College has aspirations to remain in New Zealand in hopes to be of service to her people and help them excel.
"In my chosen field, I will be able to help people physically, mentally and also with their cultural knowledge and application.
"I already use te reo Māori on a daily basis, and I plan to do so for the rest of my life. I have helped others learn te reo and implement it into their lifestyle.
"I want to be able to get the most out of my study so that I am able to give back to my iwi, to my hapū, to my whānau and to my culture.
"Every part of me wants to keep our language alive. I will be pursuing my passion for sports and leadership as well as acknowledging and uplifting my māoritanga."
Arthur is a Year 12 student at Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa's Campion College, with a goal to study in Australia.
Passionate about community projects, helping people and making apps. Arthur designed the app The Ultimate Place, which equips Gisborne visitors with local knowledge, places of interest, maps and a selection of activities
Arthur ran a project called Stationery for Schools, where she collected and donated stationery to local schools. She took the initiative further and expanded the project to Samoa.
She also entered the Young Enterprise Scheme with a business called RecFit.
"I was the financial controller for the team and we were local finalists. We were awarded the best financials and the overall best annual review in the Eastern Region."
Arthur is coaching a junior netball team and is a peer support tutor for Year 7 and 8 students at her school.
Hemana is a Year 12 student at Rotorua Boy's High School. He aspires to study medicine in the hope to give back to the marginalised communities of New Zealand.
"As soon as I decided I wanted to study medicine, my mother and I researched the best medical schools in the world. Harvard sitting comfortably at the number one spot, and so it was then the dream sparked.
"I want to become one of the most skilled surgeons that's ever lived and use those skills to help as many people as possible.
"Many of my family members have suffered chronic illness' and some have experienced a flawed health care system here in New Zealand.
"It's a well-known fact that there is a shortage of Māori medical practitioners in the healthcare system in New Zealand. When we consider the statistics for Māori health, we as Māori dominate the wrong side of healthcare here in New Zealand.
"The average life expectancy of Māori is significantly lower compared to the remaining public and ethnic groups. Health issues brought upon by poverty are higher among the Māori people. I wish to make a difference for my people.
"My mother told me about an experience in hospital where she had mistaken a Māori woman - who was her gynaecologist - for a nurse. My mother was mortified by her assumption; however, it is a rare sight to find a Māori in a position as a surgeon, let alone a female Māori.
"This space is dominated by European males. She felt at ease knowing that the person taking care of her was of Māori descent as she could relate to her. I was inspired by this and hope to one day deliver this same feeling of ease to other fellow Māori and to assure them they're being prioritised and taken care of."