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Published: 2011-11-23 00:00:00

Two emerging young Maori leaders are this year’s recipients of Waikato Regional Council’s Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarships, designed to help promote education of rangatahi (youth) in the region.

Tama Hata-Tipene and Jasmine Whanga were presented with their scholarships for $1500 and $1200 respectively at a ceremony at the regional council offices in Hamilton today.

The Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarships were established in 1991 to mark the 25th anniversary of Te Atairangikaahu becoming Maori queen, to pay tribute to her leadership and help Maori studying at the University of Waikato.

Tama – from the Waikato-Tainui Ngati Mahuta hapu - is in his second year of study at the university, completing level 2 and level 3 environmental planning papers.

Tama was head boy at Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga in Huntly in 2007. There he led a series of successful national kapa haka campaigns and also achieved national recognition for his fluency in te reo Maori and oratory skills at the annual secondary schools Maori speech awards.

Today he continues to be mentored by Waikato-Tainui kaumatua and influential leaders, developing his depth and understanding of Waikato kawa,  tikanga and te reo.

He has gained recent experience with environmental policy development at the Waikato Raupatu Rivers Trust, inspiring him to strengthen his understanding of regional and district council planning, processes and procedures. His future aspirations with local government include supporting the council to continually improve and strengthen its relations and co-decision making arrangements with iwi and Maori.

Away from study, he is involved in supporting Tainui rangatahi events,  waka ama, kapa haka, music and bands.

Jasmine Whanga, of Ngati Maniapoto’s Ngati Pourahui hapu, was dux of Ngaruawahia High School in 2006, and is now in her third year of study completing applied terrestrial ecology, mammalian physiology and public relations practices.

The volunteer SPCA and Hamilton Zoo worker is passionate about animals and their welfare, and conservation.  Jasmine – also a keen netballer and soccer player - is following a specialised program in zoology at university to help achieve her long term goal of working locally and internationally in conservation.

Regional council chairman Peter Buckley said it was a pleasure to give the scholarships to two such community-minded individuals.

“Tama and Jasmine are two very good examples of young people getting on with their studies, while continuing to make a strong contribution to the community. They exemplify the spirit of service that Dame Te Ata bought to her time as Maori queen.”

The 2011/2012 Waikato Regional Council - Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarships will be advertised again through the university’s scholarships office on 1 December 2011. Applications will close 30 April 2012.