More than 1,100 tamariki graduate from Te Mātāpuna Mātātahi | Children’s University in 2023

29 November 2023 | News

This week and last week more than 1,100 Canterbury tamariki have been donning their academic regalia and celebrating their graduation from Te Mātāpuna Mātātahi | Children’s University.

The tamariki, aged between seven and 14, have been receiving their certificates in front of thousands of whānau and friends at six evening graduation ceremonies held at the Christchurch Town Hall held on 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30 November.

46 local schools and two rūnanga have taken part in the Children’s University this year, making it the biggest graduating cohort so far.

The initiative is managed by Te Whare Wānaka o Aoraki Lincoln University and Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) in a partnership launched in 2019.

More than 67,000 study hours clocked up in 2023

Tamariki from Waitaha have completed more than 67,000 hours of Children’s University learning this year, with three children racking up over 1,000 hours each after being part of the programme for over three years.

Children are able to graduate once they have notched up 30 hours and they can graduate multiple times.

LU Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards says the Children's University offers the opportunity for tamariki to develop an aspiration for higher education. “Through their participation in the Children’s University the tamariki are supported and encouraged to enjoy higher learning, and the Campus Experience Days offer them the chance to experience for themselves just how exciting and inspiring university life can be.”

University of Canterbury Tumu Tuarua Akoranga | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Catherine Moran says the Children's University offers the opportunity for tamariki to see higher education as something achievable for everyone. “It’s challenging, it’s fun and it helps children gain confidence in themselves as learners. We support Children’s University because it encourages children to see tertiary education as part of their future.”

A parent's perspective

Shellon Turnbull, whose 10-year-old son Dylan Turnbull is graduating with 1,000 hours, says he has loved being part of the programme. “He had a goal of reaching 1,000 hours and when he got there it was almost a sad moment, because he knew Children’s University was almost at an end for him. That made it bittersweet.”

She says it has boosted his academic development and his confidence. “It’s such an amazing programme. It’s been a really positive experience for all of us. Especially because most of Dylan’s hours were gained during the Covid lockdowns. He was able to pick all of the things online that he was interested in, and it kept him busy.”

Inspirational learning activities

The tamariki join the programme through their school or rūnanga and receive a Passport to Learning. They fill their passports with hours of learning outside the classroom by visiting learning destinations, such as libraries, museums, galleries and wildlife parks, taking part in campus experiences, and completing online activities.

Hundreds of children visited LU and UC for Campus Experience events during the year, with activities including building a quake-proof structure, seeing a wind tunnel in action, 3D printing foodstuffs and experiencing an Antarctic temperature cold room.

For the first time this year, four outreach sessions were delivered in schools by UC Astronomy students. Students were able to observe the sun and its features through solar scopes and learned about planets and black holes through interactive games.

More than 1,100 tamariki are graduating from Te Mātāpuna Mātātahi | Children’s University in 2023