19 June 2024 at 10:00 am

Manaaki New Zealand scholars come together at first ever conference

The power education has in transforming lives stood out at the first ever Manaaki New Zealand Scholar Conference, held at the University of Auckland on 18-19 May. 

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Manaaki New Zealand scholars performing at the cultural evening at the first Manaaki New Zealand Scholar Conference in Auckland.

The conference – the first in the Manaaki New Zealand Scholarships programme’s 70-year history – brought together 520 scholars from 54 countries.  

A joint endeavour by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) –   - the conference programme was developed around the theme of ‘Enduring Connections: Global Partnerships and Sustainable Development’. A range of activities were made available to scholars’, including leadership and diplomatic panel discussions, thematic breakout sessions, and a cultural evening which allowed them to connect, learn and share experiences with others who are navigating similar academic journeys.  

MFAT’s Unit Manager, Scholarships, Alexandra Grace, said that seeing this event realised has been a long-standing ambition for the programme. “And it exceeded all expectations.” 

“Seeing scholars connect and forge networks that span geographic and thematic areas – gives us all the more reason to seek to make this an annual event.” 

ENZ’s Director Scholarships, Carla Rey Vasquez, said the event was a huge success, receiving high praise from both education providers and scholars.  

We’ve had fantastic feedback and I’m really proud of what we have achieved. Carla said.  

 We are delighted with how the conference enriched the learning experience of our tertiary scholars. It was a wonderful opportunity for scholars to grow their understanding of leadership, build their networks and strengthen their affinity to New Zealand.” 

Scholars enjoying the conference.

General Manager Sector Services, Sahinde Pala, said the conference highlighted the rich legacy of the scholarship programme and the enduring benefits it brings to New Zealand and its partner countries. 

“A major highlight for me was when [during a panel discussion] Her Excellency Felicidade de Sousa Guterres of Timor-Leste read out a long list of current Members of Parliament and senior diplomatic personnel of Timor-Leste, who were all past Manaaki scholars! 

The conference really brought home the power of these scholarships and the long-term outcomes they have for New Zealand and our partner countries. The event’s cultural evening treated us to performances from 13 different groups of scholars – the energy and pride on show was just fabulous!” Sahinde said. 

ENZ’s General Manager – Māori, Ed Tuari who along with mana whenua led a heartfelt Mihi Whakatau for the conference described it as absolutely magical.  

It was wonderful to see how the conference enabled a rich diversity of cultures that our scholars come from to be showcased over the two days.  

Scholars capture a moment at the Photo Wall at the conference.


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