4 Jul 2012

Two Maori students graduate from Harvard University

6:44 pm on 4 July 2012

Two Maori students have just graduated from America's prestigious Harvard University.

Dan Bidois and Natalie Coates won Fulbright Nga Pae o te Maramatanga awards, which enable New Zealand tertiary graduates to attend American universities.

Dan Bidois, 29, from Tainui iwi in Waikato, left school at 15 to work in a supermarket, before completing two degrees at Auckland University.

He spent two years at Harvard studying economic and financial public policy. It included working with the New Zealand Education Ministry on ways to reduce the increasing cost of early childhood education, while working to improve the participation rates of Maori and Pacific children.

Natalie Coates, 26, from Ngati Awa in Bay of Plenty, studied human rights and social justice law at Harvard, after attending Otago University.

Both graduates say being at Harvard was a life changing experience, and the award gave them a stronger sense of pride in New Zealand and being Maori.