Thirty-nine Māori students received a helping hand recently, when they each received a Sir Āpirana Ngata Memorial Scholarship.

Sir Apirana Ngata

The scholarship promotes higher education among Māori and is managed by Te Tumu Paeroa on behalf of the Māori Soldiers Trust. It’s funded by the trust’s major asset — Hereheretau Station — a 2,000 hectare sheep and beef farm near Wairoa. 

“The scholarship’s open to all Māori studying at a university or tertiary institution, with preference given to descendants of Māori WWI veterans,” explains Te Tumu Paeroa registry manager Lorna Goodwin.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in the quantity of applications over the last few years. It’s really encouraging to see so many Māori seeking out a higher education. And it’s great to be able to help them do that.”

The Māori Soldiers Trust committee, chaired by Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell, have the task of selecting the successful applicants. In total $65,000 worth of scholarships were distributed to recipients in 2017.

Finding your whānau

With preference given to the descendants of WWI veterans, potential applicants often ask Te Tumu Paeroa about researching their ancestors.

“For some families, you just grow up hearing about their exploits and what they got up to during the war. But for others, these stories haven’t been passed on” says Lorna.

A popular source of information is the Online Cenotaph run by the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It maintains a large record of those who’ve served for New Zealand — including photos, war records and more.

“Online Cenotaph is an amazing resource. We always encourage people researching their whakapapa to use the site” says Lorna.

Online Cenotaph also seeks out public contributions to their records. This is a way for the public to add stories, photos and information about their ancestors.

“One issue we’ve seen is that it’s not always clear if the person is Māori. It’d be great for Māori with whānau who served, and who may have some of that knowledge, to visit the site and share information about them. This could be info like iwi, hapu, aliases, or even what they did as a civilian”.

“As Māori, it’s vital we protect this information for future generations. It’s vital we keep these stories alive”.

You can visit Auckland War Memorial Museum's Online Cenotaph and update the record of your tīpuna here.

- Maika Bennett