MATES (Mentoring and Tutoring Education Scheme) is an Auckland-based programme, targeted to key transition stages in the schooling cycle. It supports low decile school students identified as being at risk of not reaching their academic potential to engage in positive learning experiences, by matching them with a tertiary student mentor/tutor. MATES started 14 years ago, drawing on Māori and Pasifika cultures and collaborating with Auckland University.
Programme Director Shana Malio-Satele, says the success of the MATES programme is built on the one-on-one mentoring relationship established over the 10 months of supervised, weekly after-school sessions. Mentors are carefully selected and trained, family engagement is a pre-requisite and achievement is celebrated at an end of year event for the mentees, their families and the mentors, along with sponsors who proudly acknowledge the work of MATES.
Shana says “At the heart of the MATES programme lie two concepts, the Māori tuakana-teina – that is the older tuakana (brother, sister, cousin) working alongside and guiding the younger teina (sibling, cousin) to acquire new knowledge and skills. The other is the Fa’a Samoa concept of tautua (service) and the idea that serving others (in a role such as mentoring) enables us to share the path to success. It is the tautua given in the form of tuakana/teina relationships that speaks to the heart of the Samoan maxim; ‘Tautua nei e foai mai manuia’aga a taeao – serve now for a better tomorrow’. MATES shows this “
The key to MATES’ sustainability is built around excellent relationships between MATES staff, mentors and schools; important teachers’ support for MATES; operating on school sites; and maximising the number of Māori or Pasifika mentors, which adds credibility in the eyes of mentees, funders and partners.
Shana says “Academic and achievement barriers are constantly being broken down in the MATES programme and youth are being given bigger horizons about their future. MATES provides them the confidence to see what is possible. Having university students as mentors means that mentee perceptions about success start with a real person in front of them who is doing it, helping them in their journey”.
There is a strong development cycle or ‘ripple effect’, with many MATES leaders starting as mentees, then going on to become mentors and leading mentor teams.