Mentoring Programme - Autaia

Autaia, meaning extraordinary, sensational and awesome is the name of the programme.  This also links to the kōrero about Kupe who is someone significant in the Wairarapa as ‘he tangata autaia’.


Education in the Wairarapa has not been a pleasant experience for descendants of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa. The lack of recognition of culture, language and identity in the national curriculum in Wairarapa schools has contributed to the low success rates and lack of engagement of Ngāti Kahungunu people.

“We have heard, generations of Māori pupils faced discrimination in ordinary State schools. Likewise, in the most recent past, Māori educational facilities (most notably kōhanga reo) have encountered public and often outright racist opposition to their commencing operation…”


Autaia mentoring pilot programme is one of the goals of the He Heke Tuna, He Heke Rangatira – Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Education Strategy, He Heke Rangatira. The group of 10 students who participated in the programme had all been excluded from school and the average age was fourteen.

The programme sought to provide a different experience for the students who were all Māori. The focus was to provide experiences that:

  • valued and respected their language culture and identity
  • helped them to set goals
  • provided a context  for learning in the community – Landscape Architecture project
  • enhanced their classroom learning programme
  • enabled them to gain NCEA credits

The key partners in the project were Victoria University Landscape Architecture students, Whānau Ora, and people from local hapū and marae. All of these groups provided unique mentoring opportunities.

The programme took place over one term of the school year.