Massey University’s Pūhoro Māori Science Academy continued to help Māori students find a pathway towards a career in science at their Term 3 Haerenga.


Students from eight schools came together in Palmerston North this week to find out more about careers in science and gain experience in a biology laboratory.

The day’s activities gave the students the chance to hear from Dr Chris Rodley (Ngāti Koata). Rodley left school at 16 with no qualifications but went on to become a successful gene scientist.

“I got suspended from school a total of three times. And my longest suspension was for six months” Rodley said.

After leaving school Rodley had a series of jobs. These ranged from putting together cardboard packaging, picking apples and working at a bank, but his love for science eventually saw him taking a different career path.

“Working at the bank, I realised it wasn’t going to fulfil me. I wanted to learn cool stuff and numbers for finance wasn’t really that. I always liked science and sort of fell into molecular genetics!”

Students also spent time listening to design thinking expert Chris Jackson, and in a biology laboratory analysing fly mutants under the microscope.

The Pūhoro programme aims to accelerate Māori achievement in preparation for university and the workforce and involves secondary students from Manawatū and Bay of Plenty. Pūhoro is funded by Massey University and Te Puni Kōkiri with support from Te Tumu Paeroa, Palmerston North City Council and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

The programme has run throughout the year and involves regular tutorial sessions within the schools as well as field trips to Massey University every school term.

Kevin Waho, the kaiwhakahaere for Māori mentoring at Feilding High School was full of praise for the Pūhoro Māori Science Academy.

“This programme has opened up the world of science to our kids. It’s let them know that there’s a pathway in this world and it’s helping [them] chose certain pathways”.

The benefit of having the chance to meet successful Māori scientists like Dr Rodley has also been of great value to students.

“When [the students] see these role models it gives them the idea that ‘if that guy can be there’ or ‘if that wahine can be in that position, I can do that too’”.