The Dame Charmian O'Connor Faculty of Science - Leading creativity and innovation in the sciences

Department of Statistics

Capturing students early is the key to success

Tuakana mentors and coordinators in the Department of Statistics

The Statistics Tuākana Programme has developed into the well-established learning community that it is today thanks to the continued dedication and expertise of key individuals – particularly Susan Wingfield (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Maniapoto) who has been the Coordinator since 2004, and Dr Heti Afimeimounga (Ha’atafu Tongatapu) who has also been involved with the programme for

several years.

While the programme provides some support at Stage II and III, the primary focus is on the Department’s core stage one paper: STATS 101/108 - Introduction to Statistics. This paper is a requirement for various degree programmes and subject majors. Large numbers of students enrol in this paper each year, many who either have a limited background in Statistics or who are not necessarily passionate about it as a subject.

Consequently, many of our Māori and Pacific students tend to find this paper rather daunting. So it’s important to capture these students and get them connected into the Statistics Tuākana Programme as early as possible.

This is where the Tuākana CoMPaSs orientation has made a significant impact. This event is run in conjunction with the Maths, Physics and Computer Science and provides the perfect opportunity for our students (and their whānau) to come together at the start of the semester to connect with other Māori and Pacific students, as well as key support people from the Department and the Faculty.

Those students who choose to be involved with the programme can reap the benefits of the following support activities:

  • Tutorials – these teaching sessions are led by Susan and Heti. Students are encouraged to work together in groups. Discussion and visual methods are often used to gain understanding ofcourse content.
  • Test and exam preparation workshops – these are also led by Susan and Heti and follow the exact same teaching style as the tutorials. Lunch is provided, which is something that always goes down well.
  • One-to-one/small group assistance – individual students or groups of students can arrange a time to receive assistance or support with specific aspects of the paper.
  • Drop-in sessions – mentors are available to offer peer support with the paper. The mentors are usually senior Māori and Pacific students who were highly successful in the course and who were also involved with the programme. These students make excellent role models for others who are coming through.

Connecting into the Statistics Tuākana Programme early also provides students with an ongoing social and cultural connection – a sense of ‘belonging’ in a place which can often feel very alienating.

Meet our people - past and present

  • Vera Clarkson

    Vera is a current student and Tuākana mentor in the Department of Statistics, and Department of Mathematics.

  • Richard Hopkins

    Richard Hopkins graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Computer Science in 2012, and a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Statistics in 2013.

Key contacts

Programme Coordinator:

Susan Wingfield

Further information

For more information about the Tuākana programme in the Department of Statistics, please visit their website.