Māori Culture & Support

Nau mai haere mai. Here at Otago Polytechnic, we have a variety of cultural, spiritual and educational support services for our ākonga māori to help you achieve within your academic studies, and within your community.

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Te Punaka Ōwheo - Māori Centre

Nau mai, haere mai ki Te Punaka Ōwheo.

Whether you’re in need of advice, study assistance or a warm and inviting space to relax and meet new Māori tauira, you will find it at Te Punaka Ōwheo, our Māori Student Support Centre. It’s our role to support our tauira to flourish here at Otago Polytechnic. We do this by offering a range of services and respond to individual student needs. Our approach is holistic and underpinned by Māori values and best practice.

Get in touch with our team and gain the academic, cultural and social support you need, and access a range of services, resources and facilities.


One big whānau

No matter where you're from, or where you want to go, we're all in this together. We've got a friendly community of Māori support staff who are here to help, and a whanau here to grow and succeed with you.

Our services

Te Punaka Ōwheo is here to make sure you get the most out of your time at Otago Polytechnic. Our services include:

  • advocacy
  • computers
  • counselling
  • financial support and advice from qualified budget advisors
  • hardship support and advice
  • iwi registration
  • kai every Wednesday in Poho
  • Māori scholarships and scholarship advice
  • student support and advice
  • StudyLink support
  • Tuakana-Teina Peer mentoring
  • wāhi Māori
  • whānaukataka


Te Punaka Ōwheo includes Poho – our Māori tauira common room equipped with computers, internet and a kitchen. There is kai available for breakfast and we have cooked lunches every Wednesday at midday (during term time). Our Wednesday kai is a great opportunity to get to know our staff and fellow Māori students. You can access Poho all week from 7am to 10pm with your Student ID Card.

Māori scholarships

A range of scholarships are available for Māori students:

  • He Toki
  • Irihapeti Ramsden
  • Mana Pounamu
  • Matawaka
  • Rūnaka

There are many other scholarships available to tertiary tauira. You can search for scholarships that suit your study on the Māori Education Trust Board and StudySpy websites.

Staff Shaylee Morton

"Personally, I struggled with my identity and being Māori. This impacted hugely on my self-acceptance, but the staff at Te Punaka Ōwheo and Foundations lecturer Jade Morgan helped me learn to accept who I am regardless of the colour of my skin."

Shaylee Morton
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“Our He Toki class starts and finishes the day with a karakia, which brings us together and gives us that space to slow down and refocus. Also, the Te Punaka Ōwheo team has provided more connection – as well as some kai.”

Aaron Jones

Kāi Tahu

He Toki Carpentry and Infrastructure

Whānau information

Making the move from secondary to tertiary education is an important step in our lives. It’s a transition into the adult world where you take those first steps towards independence and responsibility. We’re dedicated to supporting prospective students and their whānau to learn more about programme options and life on campus.

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Health, safety and wellbeing

Rest assured, we care about our students and are committed to making sure they have a safe and enjoyable study experience. We take health, safety and wellbeing very seriously and have a number of experts and services in place to help.

Connecting with your iwi

To access iwi funding for tertiary education, you need to be registered as a descendant. Registration forms for individual iwi are listed below (please note: this is not a complete list, and, while we do our best to maintain it, we cannot guarantee that the information is up to date).

If you can’t find your iwi in our list, try searching online and/or speaking with your whānau. You can also try the Te Puni Kōkiri website or Careers website for help.

If you don't know your iwi and want help to search for your whakapapa, please get in touch with our team at tepunakaowheo@op.ac.nz

And, keep an eye on our Te Punaka Ōwheo Facebook page for our whakapapa workshops.

Explore our campuses

With our main campus in Dunedin, our boutique campus in Central Otago, our international campus in Auckland and our huge range of online options.