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Aupiki Ake Recipients Awarded at Regional Graduations

14 November 2023

As part of our graduation events for our year 13 cohort, each year we present the Aupiki Ake award to a very special recipient from each region.

As part of our graduation events for our year 13 cohort, each year we present the Aupiki Ake award to a very special recipient from each region. These individuals are selected by their kaihautū based on their commitment to the kaupapa and the way in which they embody the Pūhoro values – tauheretanga, ūkaipōtanga, māuitanga and ngākau pono.

We asked our Kaihautū to share some words about these recipients and here is what they had to say… 

Wiremu Loader - Freyberg High School, Manawatū

“Wiremu is a dedicated individual who turned up to every Pūhoro session with a positive attitude. Next year Wiremu intends to study a Bachelor of Information Science and hopes to enrol in Te Pūtaketanga o Te Reo at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.  

With his easy going and friendly nature, and solid worth ethic, we know Wiremu will have a lasting impact on whatever field he enters.”

Eliza Hills - Hillcrest High School, Waikato

"Eliza has distinguished herself as an exceptional student, demonstrating unwavering commitment to the Pūhoro kaupapa. Her active participation in Pūhoro sessions and events is noteworthy. She exhibits a strong eagerness to learn, often highlighted by her insightful questions. Remarkably, Eliza embodies the core Pūhoro values of tauheretanga, ukaipotanga, māuitanga, and ngakau pono, reflecting them in her daily actions and interactions. We look forward to seeing all her goals and aspirations come to fruition in the near future.


Next year, Eliza plans to study a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts at The University of Canterbury."

Manaaki Waretini-Beaumount - Avonside Girls' High School, Ōtautahi 

“Manaaki is an expectational rangatahi and has shown great commitment to the Pūhoro kaupapa. She actively participates in all our events and sessions and has been a leader and role-model in our programme for her peers. Manaaki has a strong passion for Te Ao Māori and environmental science, and we are looking forward to seeing all the great things she will accomplish.

Next year Manaaki will go to the University of Canterbury and Study Environmental Science.”


Rawiri Haliburton - Wairoa College, Te Matau-a-Māui 

“Rawiri has demonstrated his commitment to the kaupapa over the course of three years, even amidst the challenges of Covid and a cyclone. His dedication has been recognised with the first Genesis award in Year 11. Rawiri's positive nature has a unifying effect, bringing people together. As he became a tuākana within Wairoa College, he actively supported the kaupapa by attending Pūhoro Year 10 presentations and encouraging rangatahi to join Pūhoro. Rawiri's influence will undoubtedly have a positive impact on everyone he encounters and all the kaupapa he takes part in."

In 2024 Rawiri intends to study Culinary Arts at AUT.


Armani Tohaia – Pukekohe High School, Te Tai Tonga o Tāmaki Makaurau

“Armani exemplifies unwavering dedication and passionate engagement with the Pūhoro kaupapa since her induction into the program in 2021 as a Year 11.

Her active involvement is not only commendable but goes beyond, as she assumes a pivotal role within the Te Kahui Akonga advisory group. This esteemed group convenes fortnightly in an online forum and during term breaks to strategically deliberate on optimizing support and fostering meaningful engagement with rangatahi Māori in NCEA. 

Armani embodies the Pūhoro values of tauheretanga, ūkaipōtanga, māuitanga but most importantly ngākau pono where she acts with sincerity and integrity and will take these leadership qualities as she progresses further in her career.”

In 2024 she will begin a Bachelor of Forestry Science and a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Canterbury​.


Hope Vahaakolo – Auckland Girls Grammar School, Te Pūtahi o Tāmaki Makaurau

“We have watched the transformation of Hope, evolving from a promising Year 11student to a poised and gracious Year 13, symbolizing an unwavering commitment and tenacity that goes beyond academic excellence.

Hope embodies what we in Pūhoro want for all our tauira; commitment and perseverance not only with academic endeavors but also with their career and future achievements. 

Alongside committing to our weekly kaupapa, Hope has also been an advocate of our programme participating in the opening of a new region, taking on the hefty task of speaking to an incredible audience of kaiako, whānau, Minister Kelvin Davis and her Iwi.

Hope holds the promise of making an impact on the future of Māori in STEM, shattering barriers and illuminating the path for those who will follow. 

Next year Hope will be looking to study a Bachelor of Health Science at Otago University to pursue her aspiration of becoming a Pediatrician. We will continue to support her through her tertiary study and look forward to seeing her achieve her dreams.”

The recipients are awarded a Te Pītau Whakareia print designed by our Pou Auaha Noel Hilliard.

Below is a description of what the print represents: 

The three rings are a representation of the three phases of Pūhoro – Te Urunga Tū,Te Urunga Pae, and Te Urunga Tapu. The rings are made up of kōwhaiwhai, within these are four manaia that represent our aspiration to serve tauira Māori from across Aotearoa.

The tekoteko is a representation of the tauira, now adorned with the markings of chiefs, as they venture off into the world to begin their journey. They have graduated from Te Urunga Tū and are now ready to set out and create their own future, much like Tāne Mahuta and our other deities.

At their feet are two manaia that represent all those who have supported in their growth to this point – mātua, whānau, friends, kaiako, kura, and Kaihautū. 

The overall shape of the figure is likened to the punga of a waka and serves as a reminder to always remain anchored in their own values to ensure their waka doesn’t drift off path. The punga itself can also be split into two matau so, like Māui, they can always be fishing for greater heights and opportunities –their success is our success.



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