Education postgraduate students win Kupe Leadership Scholarships

Master of Education student Tāmati Rākena and Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) student Helena Crengle will take part in a year-long leadership programme.

Tāmati Rākena
Tāmati Rākena completed the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Huarahi Māori specialisation and recently started on his masters.

Two postgraduate students from the Faculty of Education and Social Work are among the 14 successful recipients of the inaugural Kupe Leadership Scholarships. Tamati Rakena is a Master of Education Student at Tai Tokerau Campus and Helena Crengle is studying the Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) at Epsom Campus.

The 2019 Kupe Leadership Scholars were selected from a pool of talented postgraduate applicants from a diverse range of disciplines – from science, information technology and medicine through to the arts, education, architecture and business – following a rigorous and competitive selection process.

“The scholars are not only strong academically, but they also have a deep personal commitment to making a positive contribution to Aotearoa New Zealand. Most importantly, they have all demonstrated leadership potential and capability in the areas they care about. This is what sets the Kupe Leadership Scholars apart,” says Mattie Wall, Project Manager for Kupe Leadership Scholarships.

Each of the scholars has been assigned a personal mentor to support, nurture and challenge their leadership aspirations during their Kupe Leadership year. Tamati’s mentor is Shaun Clarke ONZM, Chief Executive of the Far North District Council, while Helena’s mentor is Pat Snedden MNZM, Executive Chair of the Manaiakalani Trust. Each scholar will also receive a stipend of $22,000 as well as support from a sponsor.

The programme will consist of a series of workshops throughout the year where scholars will develop the mindset and leadership capabilities that will be so essential to their leadership work. At the beginning of March, the scholars came together for an orientation weekend on Waiheke Island.

In December last year, Canadian philanthropist John McCall MacBain gifted over $1 million to the University of Auckland to launch the Kupe Leadership Scholarships. The Kupe Leadership Scholars enjoyed the opportunity to meet with John and offer him some insight into their area of study, their passion and the difference they want to make for Aotearoa.

We wish Tāmati, Helena and the rest of the 2019 Kupe Leadership Scholars a rewarding leadership experience for the year ahead.

The scholars are not only strong academically, but they also have a
deep personal commitment to making a positive contribution to Aotearoa
New Zealand.

Mattie Wall Project Manager, Kupe Leadership Scholarships.

Helena Crengle
Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) student Helena Crengle.

Here's what our two young scholars have to say:


Tamati Rakena

Tuatahi mai, e ngakaunui ana au ki nga hua o te matauranga. Kua roa nei au e kite, e rongo ana i nga korero me nga whakaaro kuare e puta mai ana i te marea, na te papaku noa iho a o ratou puna matauranga, a, i pera hoki ahau i mua i taku rukuhanga ki tenei puna. Me matatau tatou katoa ki te tika me te pono o nga take huhua i te ao e ora ai tatou. E whakapono ana ahau ki te whakaaro, ina kei te kokiri koe i tetahi kaupapa, me arahina mai i mua, kaua ko te whiore o to kaupapa. Heoi, he maha nga kaupapa e piri paua ana ki toku matapunenga e kite ai hei take takahi oranga tangata.

  • Matauranga mo Te Reo Maori me te whakaako i nga hitori pono o Aotearoa (kaua ko nga teka).
  • Pou hapai i nga taitamariki/taitamariki me nga tamariki nohinohi kia hua mai ratou hei tetekura mo apopo.
  • Te manaaki me te whakarauora i to tatou taiao.
  • Te aukati i nga ahuatanga o te poharatanga me te rawa kore.

We all understand the importance of the many aspects of life that contribute to our wellbeing. I have a deep passion for the benefits of education and I strongly believe that when you champion a cause, you must carry it forward purposefully and not deviate from your path. There are many things impacting negatively on the wellbeing of the people in my community (which can be addressed by):

  • Creating a deep understanding of Te Reo Māori and the true history of Aotearoa.
  • Supporting our children and babies to help them develop into the leaders of tomorrow.
  • Nurturing and nourishing our natural environment.
  • Ending poverty and despair.


Helena Crengle

Growing up in South East Asia opened my eyes to the debilitating effects of inequality on crime, social cohesion and the economic growth of a nation. As a New Zealand Maori, I was disheartened on my return to see that these inequalities are also a contemporary and growing reality here in Aotearoa. I believe that a quality education and equal opportunity are key to ameliorating inequality. This not only requires more teachers, but teachers who are motivated, resilient and dedicated to leading and improving pathways for all our tamariki. My global perspective from living abroad, the quality education I have received and my background in the social sciences have all fuelled my desire and determination to contribute to social change. It is my time to pay it forward by leading and positively impacting a classroom, as I have been led and inspired in the past.