Awanuiārangi celebrates graduation of 3000 students

A procession of gowned graduands through the streets of Whakatāne and a formal capping ceremony will mark the graduation of more than 3000 students from Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi today.

Among those graduating is United States First Nations international doctoral graduand Mary Dupuis, of the Confederate Tribes of the Chehalis people, Washington State. Mary will graduate as a Doctor of Indigenous Development and Advancement, following in the footsteps of her twin sister Dr Marla Conwell, who graduated last year as the first international Professional Doctorate student. The sisters are the first members of their tribe to graduate with a Doctorate. Mary’s research and thesis was a revisionist history of the Confederate Tribes of the Chehalis people, and Marla’s focus was Chehalis language reclamation and revitalisation. Seven members of their family and a representative of the tribe will travel to Whakatāne for the graduation.

Friday’s graduands have completed doctoral, masters, bachelor degree and certificate qualifications in a range of more than 20 programmes, including teaching, nursing, te reo Māori, performing arts, Māori Studies and Indigenous Studies.

Guest speaker, Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta, will be among hundreds of iwi, government and local authority representatives, academics, staff, students and their whānau and supporters at the day-long celebrations at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae, marking the 27th graduation at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

Chief executive Professor Wiremu Doherty said graduation is the highlight of the institution’s annual calendar, and an opportunity for the wider community to honour the graduands’ achievements with pride.

“They are graduating uniquely qualified with a world-class indigenous education that they have worked hard for,” Professor Doherty said.

“At a time of great challenge for Aotearoa and the world, they are graduating with unique research and scholarship expertise, knowledge and networks. They are therefore uniquely empowered to use the opportunities that their education gives them to make a difference, to make change happen, to build a better world.

In the years ahead, we will look to them to exercise leadership and to seize every opportunity to work purposefully, creatively and collaboratively to address the challenges faced by our communities.”

Graduation 2019 will begin at 8am on Friday with a pōwhiri at Te Mānuka Tūtahi marae. The Gown & Town hīkoi through the centre of Whakatāne will leave from Mitchell Park Reserve at 10am and proceed along The Strand to Mātaatua Street. The procession has become a highlight of annual graduation events, with hundreds of well-wishers lining the streets to perform haka and cheer on the formal parade of graduands, academic staff and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi Council members in academic regalia.

The formal capping ceremony begins at 11am.

Sam Gardner