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Tū Kahika

Te Huarahi, Health Science scholarship

The University of Otago's Tū Kahika Scholarship is a two-semester (February to October) Health Sciences programme run within University of Otago, Foundation Year Health Sciences Course. Tū Kahika is a one year preparation course that prepares Māori students academically for their first year of tertiary study the and a future career in Māori health.

Tū Kahika students receive guaranteed accommodation in a Residential College, and financial assistance towards tuition fees and accommodation costs.

The University of Otago acknowledges the support for Tū Kahika received from the Ministry of Health and the Tertiary Education Commission.

Download an information pack (PDF)

Applications for 2024 open 15 June - 15 August

Tū Kahika Applications for 2024 will be available June 15

What does ‘Tū Kahika’ mean?

The name Tū Kahika comes from a southern variation on the name of the kahikatea tree, which grows well with the support of others around it.

Entry criteria for Tū Kahika

Successful applicants must:

  • Have Māori whakapapa
  • Show a commitment to Māori health and Māori development
  • Be in Year 13 year of study (or be a very recent school leaver)
  • Show a commitment to pursue Health Sciences study and a career in health (a strong science and math background up to Year 13 is preferred)
  • Stay in a residential college (either Arana or Studholme) during their first year of study

Application process for Tū Kahika

Students must submit both the online Tū Kahika application and a residential college application to be considered for the programme.

Interviews for Tū Kahika

Selected Tū Kahika applicants are interviewed with their whānau in their home region by Tū Kahika staff. The interview is an opportunity for students and whānau to meet programme staff, learn more about the programme, and have their questions answered.

Students will be notified shortly after their interview if they have been accepted into the Tū Kahika programme.

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What is Tū Kahika?

Tū Kahika is an award that supports young Māori students interested in a career in health, into and through the University of Otago’s Foundation Year Health Sciences course and beyond.

Tū Kahika prepares students for further study in Health Sciences (particularly Health Sciences First Year) by providing wrap-around academic, cultural, pastoral and financial support over the year.

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What do Tū Kahika students receive?

Tū Kahika students receive:

  • Automatic enrolment into the University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year, Health Sciences course.  
  • Guaranteed accommodation in a University of Otago Residential College (either Studholme College or Arana College)
  • $13,000 towards Residential College costs
  • Additional tutorials and academic assistance
  • A dedicated Kaiārahi (support person) to assist with orientation through university
  • A strong support network of Māori staff and students
  • Professional and cultural development (knowledge of health career pathways & options)
  • University study skills, exam preparation and time management techniques
  • Academic preparedness for further tertiary study in Health Sciences, in particular Health Science First Year (HSFY)

Pastoral support

Tū Kahika students are provided a Kaiārahi (Student Coordinator) to guide them into and through the Tū Kahika programme.

The Kaiārahi:

  • Meets and welcomes all new Tū Kahika students the moment they arrive to Dunedin
  • Coordinates extra tutorials for students (particularly in Physics and Chemistry)
  • Provides knowledge about future study options and career pathways in health
  • Organises extra (fun) activities for Tū Kahika students
  • Provides academic, personal, and social support and mentoring over the year

Academic support

Tū Kahika students participate in lectures, labs, and tutorials alongside other Foundation Year students and receive lots of assistance from Foundation Year staff.

Tū Kahika students also receive additional academic support:

  • Tutorials at Te Huka Matauraka/the Māori Centre
  • Residential college tutorials
  • Time management, goal setting, exam preparation, and university study skills workshops


All Tū Kahika students have guaranteed (and subsidised) accommodation in an Otago University Residential College, either Studholme College or Arana College.

Both colleges are located within walking distance of the campus and each has its own unique culture, extra tutorials, and fantastic food!

Financial Assistance

All Tū Kahika students are provided $13,000 dollars towards their guaranteed accommodation at either Studholme College or Arana College.

Fees are covered by the Tertiary Education Commissions' Free Fees Scheme – If students are eligible. To check eligibility for the Free Fees Scheme, visit:

Professional and cultural development

Tū Kahika students are provided additional professional and cultural development as part of the Tū Kahika programme.

Students have the opportunity to learn more about Health Sciences degree options and careers in health. Students also have the opportunity to gain a more hands on understanding of a variety of health career options, and meet Māori health professionals working in these fields.

Some Te reo Māori me ōna tikanga is also woven through the programme.

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What students say

"The support is MEAN!"

With guaranteed accommodation, a dedicated support person and added academic assistance, Tū Kahika students are provided wrap-around support to achieve their goals of becoming a health professional.

"You feel a sense of belonging because people actually know who you are and care about what you are doing"

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What will I study?

All Tū Kahika students study the Foundation Year Health Sciences course and participate in lectures, labs and tutorials on the Otago University campus.

Preparation for Health Sciences courses

This course of study better prepares students for success in the University of Otago’s Health Science First Year (HSFY) or other Health Sciences degree study at university or polytechnic the year following Tū Kahika.

Stunning learning facilities and small class sizes ensure individual learning support and assistance in a comfortable modern environment.

Visit the Foundation Year website for more information about the Health Sciences course. Students study:

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Commencement date

Tū Kahika students follow the Foundation Year Health Science stream dates consisting of two 14-week terms including exams.

Term 1 runs from late February through to the beginning of June each year with a mid-term break in April. Term 2 commences at the end of June and finishes at the beginning of October with a mid-term break in August.

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Beyond Tū Kahika

Health Sciences First Year (HSFY)

Successful completion of Tū Kahika, to the required standard, guarantees you admission to the University of Otago Health Sciences First Year (HSFY). On the successful completion of HSFY, you may apply for entry into the following professional programmes:

Entry to these professional programmes is competitive and is based on the grades achieved in Health Sciences First Year.

During Health Sciences First Year, you may be eligible for additional support via the Socioeconmic Equity (EQ) Project.

Other academic paths

Following Tū Kahika you may choose to apply directly for admission to:

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Contact Tū Kahika

If you have any queries about the Tū Kahika programme or the application process, please contact the Programme Coordinator, Sam Feeney:

Mob +64 27 249 8551

Contact the University of Otago Pathway and English Language Centre

If you have any queries about the University of Otago Pathway and English Language Centre please contact:

Tel +64 3 479 5250

University of Otago Pathway & Language Centre website

Contact the University colleges and accommodation

For information about University-managed colleges and accommodation application process, please contact the Student Accommodation Centre:

Tel +64 3 479 8950
Freephone 0800 80 80 98

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