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Academy continues to inspire next generation of STEM enthusiasts  

Academy continues to inspire next generation of STEM enthusiasts  

  • 29 Apr 2024

(Picture caption: Amanaki STEM Academy students enjoy the sights and sounds of the University of Auckland during a recent STEM tour.)  

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has been the focus for 19 Pacific students from the Manawatū region over the recent school holidays.    

Led by Amanaki STEM Academy (ASA) in Palmerston North, the group attended hands-on sessions at the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) as well as a tour of the Rocket Lab.    

The ASA Auckland STEM tours and hands-on sessions were a collaboration between Amanaki STEM Academy and Putahi Manawa, Pacific-I, Auckland University and Auckland University of Technology.  

During the first week of holidays, ASA Year 9 - 13 students learned research project skills under the guidance of Professors and Doctors from Sweet Pressure/Putahi Manawa.    

Inspirational STEM journeys were shared by renowned Pacific researchers Dr Chris Puluivea (Auckland University of Technology) and Professor Darryl Schwenke (Otago University).   

Co-Founder of ASA Viliami Teumohenga says the students are blessed to have been presented with these opportunities to learn research and project design skills that enable them to problem solve and create solutions for their families and community.   

Catering for Pacific students in STEM subjects, ASA provides wrap-around mentoring, tutoring and exam preparation, and opens career doors for the next generation.    

It is creating a pipeline of confident and competent Pacific innovators, engineers, scientists, and health professionals grounded in their cultural values.   

“Amanaki started when Tanya Koro and I were teaching our three children and wanted to improve the performance of Pacific students in STEM subjects,” Viliami says.    

“By 2021, the programme had grown to include 60 students and that number has more than doubled now.   

“We work with 125 students from Year 5 up, running every night of the week to keep up with demand.    

“Thanks to funding from the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, we employ 10 paid tutors, and have an additional seven volunteers in our team.”    

The Academy’s focus on upskilling Pacific youth in STEM aligns closely with the Ministry, who is focused on improving employment opportunities and providing the right tools for Pacific peoples throughout the country, to succeed in life.    

Viliami says more support is needed for Pacific students and the success of ASA is proven.    

“A total of 85 percent of our students have gone on to study STEM-related subjects at universities or polytechnics.     

"The data shows by the time students reach Year 9 in the general population they are usually behind in numeracy and literacy.    

“For Pacific peoples, it’s more like three to four years behind.   

“When you take the pressure away from actually qualifying to be a doctor or engineer and put the focus on learning a new and interesting subject such as engineering, radiography or medicine, students feel more inspired.”    

Viliami adds it is hoped the pipeline of Pacific students going on to tertiary study will continue to increase.     

Visit the Amanaki STEM Academy Facebook page to stay updated about events and programmes.