It's a chance to celebrate achievement, but the Auckland University of Technology is also using its Maori Expo as a chance to hook prospective students.

AUT is expecting 20,000 students to visit Vector Arena for the start of today's expo, where visitors will be treated to fashion shows, some of New Zealand's top dance crews and a kapa haka competition.

This evening, they can visit Ngahau i Te Po, Groove the Night, where top artists such as Herbs, Three Houses Down, House of Shem, Cornerstone Roots and Che Fu will play.

AUT chancellor Sir Paul Reeves said the expo was aimed at getting young people to think about where they want to study.

"We hope that AUT should be the university of choice for Maori and Pacific students because we have a way of doing things that honour and respect who they are."

AUT is also making an effort to increase the number of Maori working in New Zealand's health workforce.

The scheme - backed by Auckland District Health Board and the Rangatahi Maori Mentoring Trust - will provide a pathway from secondary school, through tertiary study and placement in the health sector.

The Rangatahi programme has received $800,000 from the Tertiary Education Commission.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said the initiative was needed to increase the number of Maori electing to study, and boost the number completing degrees and getting work.

AUT Maori health dean Kate Haswell said Maori were less likely than other students to choose a career in health, and as a result were under-represented in "almost all health professions, particularly front-line clinical roles".

Auckland District Health Board official Catherine Waetford says its involvement would provide work experience in the local community.

Rangatahi Maori Mentoring Trust spokesman James Watkinson said the Rangatahi programme filled a gap not met by other Maori mentoring programmes.

"It is not targeted at Maori who have already chosen a career in health; instead it aims to identify those students with the potential for a career in health."

The Rangatahi programme aims to have 10 Maori health professionals graduate from the Auckland region each year, and to have 30 enrolled in the programme by 2011.