Rhodes Scholar puts the mahi in to combat social inequality

University of Auckland student Rhieve Grey is one of just three young New Zealanders awarded the prestigious 2020 Rhodes Scholarship to carry out postgraduate study at the University of Oxford.

Rhieve Grey at graduation
Rhieve Grey (Ngāti Tūwharetoa ki Taupō, Ngāti Manunui, Ngāti Porou)

Rhieve (Ngāti Tūwharetoa ki Taupō, Ngāti Manunui, Ngāti Porou) is completing a BSc (Hons) in Psychology in the Faculty of Science, focusing on the treatment and prevention of Māori youth with harmful sexual behaviours.

He has been accepted into the Clinical Psychology programme, which has competitive entry based on grades and extra-curricular involvement. This involvement is based on his outstanding mahi as a leader, mentor, researcher and facilitator working with Māori and Pasifika youth, both through his school career and later at university.

Rhieve completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Māori Studies in the Faculty of Arts and says the biggest thing that stood out for him, and that contributed to success in his studies, was the community feeling.

"There is an extra duty of care that the lecturers and tutors have in the Māori Studies classes towards the students, I guess because the classes themselves are based on principles of whakawhanaungatanga and manaakitanga," he says.

"I always felt like I was seen and heard by lecturers and staff in Māori Studies, and that they  cared about how you were and your development in their courses."

Through this major, he also gained important mentors like Dr Tiopira McDowell and Professor Tracey McIntosh, whose mentorship not only contributed to his success but also his feeling of being supported by the University.

"Their care and devotion to the students, as well as the field, gave me the inspiration and confidence to do better and to always strive for more in and outside of my studies.

"Their work was also always associated with the wellbeing and development of te iwi Māori, which was also hugely important to me as it meant there was always a bigger meaning to my studies than just getting a degree," he says.

One of Rhieve's referees noted that he has clear long-term aspirations to support and develop Māori and improve their outcomes across New Zealand, which he has already put into practice.

There is an extra duty of care that the lecturers and tutors have in the Māori Studies classes towards the students, I guess because the classes themselves are based on principles of whakawhanaungatanga and manaakitanga.

Rhieve Grey Rhodes Scholar

He volunteered at the Mount Eden Corrections Facility for two years, helping inmates with goal setting and gaining qualifications and talking about impulsivity and applying critical thinking to actions, particularly with those in the youth unit.

Rhieve is currently working as a Tuākana teaching mentor at the University, part of a programme established to boost the engagement and achievement of Māori and Pasifika students. He has also been a facilitator for a Māori and Pasifika leadership programme that aims to equip students with the leadership abilities needed in an academic setting.

“I am blessed to be descended from [a] successful whakapapa and it has translated into much of the success I now reap,” he says.

Early last year, in response to New Zealand’s high suicide rates, particularly among young men, Rhieve created and hosted a podcast (Hard Yarns), contributing to normalising conversations about mental health.

In 2018, he received the University of Auckland Mātariki Rising Stars Award for academic achievement and all-round excellence and was awarded the prestigious Kupe Leadership Scholarship (2019/20). As well as financial support, Kupe scholars are assigned mentors from community, corporate and political fields to help them develop leadership attributes.

Rhieve is committed to helping combat the social inequities faced by Māori as well as all Indigenous peoples around the world. At Oxford, he plans to study for a Masters in Evidence-Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation and a Masters of Public Policy.

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Lisa Finucane
Mob:  021 677 216
Email: l.finucane@auckland.ac.nz