Nearly 3,000 Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi graduands will graduate this year and more than 200 will receive their degrees and certificates during a formal capping ceremony in Whakatāne this Friday.
More than 600 iwi representatives, government and local authority officials, academics, staff, students and their whānau and supporters will attend the day-long celebrations at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae.
Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi chief executive Professor Wiremu Doherty said the ceremony was an annual highlight for the institution, the community and especially for the whānau and friends who come to support their loved ones and mark their achievement.
“Each of these 2935 graduands from throughout Aotearoa have worked hard to attain their qualifications and, together with our wider communities, we honour their achievements with pride,” Professor Doherty said.
“Their knowledge and expertise must now be put to work not only for themselves and their whānau, but also for the good of all our people and of society at large. In the years ahead, we will look to them to exercise leadership and to seize every opportunity to work creatively and collaboratively to address the challenges faced by our communities.”
Among the graduands will be the first from the re-developed Māori nursing degree, Bachelor of Health Science Māori Nursing. Associate Professor Deborah Rowe, Director of Nursing & Health Science at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, said she expects the graduation of this large group of culturally and clinically competent nurses to impact positively on health care outcomes for Māori and other cultures.
“Only 7% of nurses in the workforce are Māori, and this first output of graduates will go some way to addressing this disparity,” Dr Rowe said. “Our graduates are able to work effectively and successfully with Māori and other cultures to improve health outcomes. It’s a model the whole country could benefit from.”
Also graduating on Friday will be the first students from the School of Iwi Development’s re-developed Te Pou Hono marae-based programmes, which teach critical skills for cultural, social and economic development in marae communities, and the first graduate of the doctorate of Maori Development & Advancement.
Graduation 2018 will begin at 8am with a pōwhiri at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae, followed at 10am by the annual Gown and Town procession from Mitchell Park Reserve through the centre of Whakatāne to Te Mānuka Tūtahi. The hīkoi along The Strand has become a highlight of the day’s events, with hundreds of well-wishers lining the street to perform haka and cheer on the formal parade of students, academic staff and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi Council members in academic regalia. The formal capping ceremony begins at 11am.