New Māori leadership programme leaves a lasting impression on Auckland international students

Students from over 40 countries have spent a day with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, a Māori tribe based in Auckland, learning about Māori culture and values as part of the new Rukuhia Global Leadership Programme. 

The interactive, day-long programme is designed for around 30 students each day and takes place at the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei marae (ancestral grounds) near central Auckland. The programme includes workshops focusing on values-based leadership, innovation, sustainability and the connection of people, place and environment. 

As part of the day, students experience a pōwhiri (traditional welcome ceremony), meet iwi (tribe) leaders, elders and youth council members, learn some te reo (Māori language), participate in a waiata (song) workshop, and have a guided walk across the ancestral lands of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. 

Jamie Cook, Business Development Manager for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, says: “It has been our honour and privilege to host these young international students, whom are no doubt the future leaders of tomorrow.”

Designed by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and supported by Study Auckland, the Rukuhia Programme lets students dive deep into Māori culture and connect with Auckland’s people, values and history. The name Rukuhia is taken from a Māori proverb: Ki te hōhonu koe, me ruku kawau maro | Should you dive, dive deep like the determined Kawau bird.

Manager International Education – Study Auckland, Henry Matthews, says: “We want these students to be well supported, welcomed and valued for their contribution to the country and communities they live and study in. As future global leaders and industry professionals, international students are eager to learn about our Māori culture in order to help them fulfil their own leadership and career development potential.” 

Over 140 tertiary level international students from 28 different education institutions in Auckland have participated so far and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with 98% of participants say they would recommend the programme to their friends and 88% of students say they feel the programme had a positive impact on their future career. 

“The Rukuhia Programme is one of the most genuine encounters I have experienced in my entire life. I have never thought that I could relate to another culture this much, I was not born Māori, but I felt really connected with the Ngāti Whātua ways, culture, how they revered their elders, nature, their identities. It was real, heartfelt, honest. I was holding myself from crying for the entire time.” 

Bea from the Philippines
Digital Marketing - New Zealand Institute of Education (NZIE)