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Minister of Education Hekia Parata today announced six appointments to the Ngārimu VC and 28th Māori Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund Board.

Ms Parata says the Board has a rich history of providing scholarships to support future Māori leaders in their academic studies, which will continue with the mix of skills the new members bring to the board.

Ms Parata welcomes back existing Board members Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Graeme Vercoe, B Company representative, and former teacher and university lecturer Dr Monty Soutar, C Company representative, who have both been reappointed.

“Graeme has an excellent knowledge of government policy and processes and extensive experience in the New Zealand Army, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is the current Chair of the B Company History Trust.

“Dr Soutar is an expert in Māori history and the Māori Battalion, particularly the C Company, and has also served in the New Zealand Army”.

“I am also delighted to welcome four outstanding new members”.

Dr Te Tuhi Robust has been appointed to the Board as the representative of the A Company of the Māori Battalion. Dr Robust is an Associate Professor at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi.

“His commitment to Māori achievement in education is demonstrated by more than 30 years of experience in various education sector roles. Dr Robust links to the Māori Battalion through his father who was a member of A Company,” Ms Parata says.

Dr Melanie Riwai-Couch is the Principal of Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Whānau Tahi in Christchurch, and has been appointed as the Board’s D Company representative. 

“Dr Riwai-Couch has an excellent understanding of Māori language and tikanga, and a strong commitment to Māori education. Her links to the Māori Battalion are with D Company through an uncle who was a member”.

Linda Te Aho is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Waikato, and represents past scholarship recipients on the Board.

“Linda has shown commitment and service to Māori education, within the Law faculty and as Associate Dean Māori at Waikato University. Linda is fluent in te reo and tikanga Māori. Linda’s father-in-law was a Major in C Company”.

Phillip Heeney, a descendant of Te Moananui a Kiwa Ngārimu VC, is the Principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou, and is the new Ngārimu whānau representative on the Board.

“Phillip is well recognised as a professional leader, particularly in Māori medium education. He has particular expertise in mathematics and science, and has supported kura kaupapa Māori throughout the country to build their teaching expertise in these areas,” Ms Parata says.

The Board was set up in 1945 to help Māori in education, promote the study of te reo Māori and help maintain it along with Māori history, tradition and culture.

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