13 Māori graduate student candidates from across Aotearoa are visiting the UK this week (Oct 8-16) as part of a new initiative to open up opportunities with the University of Oxford.

Hosted by The Atlantic Institute and The Rhodes Trust, Te Hononga Māori Graduate Study Tour has an inaugural cohort of over 30 attendees, including both graduate student candidates and leaders from the Māori community.

Visiting candidates will meet with Oxford University academics and leaders, network with recent Māori graduates, and tour various schools within the university in a visit designed to encourage more Māori students to consider international study at leading universities.

The tour also celebrates 100 years since the matriculation of the first wahine Māori student, and possibly first indigenous student at Oxford University, Mākereti Papakura.

“We are so pleased to be able to honour Mākereti, whose pioneering days as a student in Oxford are an inspiration 100 years later, to New Zealand and for people around the world. Te Hononga builds on her legacy and those of Māori leaders who followed in her footsteps as students at the University,” says Evie O’Brien (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Ranginui), Director of The Atlantic Institute.

In addition to encouraging and supporting Māori into international study, the tour aims to increase the number of Māori students taking advantage of opportunities such as the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

“Of the more than 247 New Zealand Rhodes scholars selected since 1904, only three were Māori. A clear strategy is needed to enable more Māori students to take their place in these world-leading universities,” says O’Brien.

Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust is one of twelve iwi and kaupapa Māori sponsoring entities and is supporting two candidates to attend the tour, Ryan Meachen (Ngāti Te Wehi, Ngāti Huia) and Jeanine Tamati-Elliffe (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Mutunga).

“Ryan and Jeanine, and all the Te Hononga candidates, represent our boundless potential to excel on a world academic stage in a way that is grounded in our Māoritanga” says Kātene.

The programme will include the inaugural Mākereti Papakura Memorial lecture at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, in honour of Mākereti, delivered by esteemed Māori academic, Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Waikato).

“It is commonly said that our people cannot be what they cannot see. Te Hononga not only connects these scholars with the trailblazing legacy of Mākareti Papakura, but also brings Oxford into their world, moving that dream of international study from the intangible to the eminently achievable.”