The generosity of volunteer tutors has made all the difference to the academic success of Māori and Pasifika students at Auckland’s InZone Education Foundation. Working via Zoom throughout the Covid-19 rāhui, tutors provided one-on-one support to 80 rangatahi to help keep their education on track. 

InZone’s Academic Pathways Manager Joy Williams says that rangatahi have come back from lockdown confident to return to school, even with exams looming. “This extra support gave our rangatahi huge comfort throughout the challenging lockdown period,” she says. 

InZone Education Foundation is a charitable trust that provides a ‘home away from home’ for Māori and Pasifika students who attend Auckland Boys Grammar School and Epsom Girls Grammar School. When the rāhui was announced, InZone’s kāinga (hostels) had to close their doors and students returned home to whānau. Online learning became essential and InZone’s volunteer tutors played a crucial role in supporting students. 

Volunteer tutor Elizabeth Towns says that the one-to-one support benefitted students greatly. “They were more confident to ask questions than in the classroom and were given more individualised support with their studies.”

Elizabeth chose to volunteer as a tutor because she believes many rangatahi have not had equal opportunities throughout their education. “The students blossom at InZone and strive for higher levels of academic attainment. We see them become more confident and motivated, with immense pride in their heritage. I benefit from the students’ respect, trust and friendship.”

Students at InZone feel positive about their lockdown tutoring experiences.

“The tutors are cool because they are confident and make learning comfortable. I told them what I needed help with and we went over the bookwork and past papers. It’s been easier learning one-on-one,” Maika says. 

“They help us understand heaps of stuff we don’t know. They explain the content to us clearly and so we can understand it,” Nathaniel says.

Students were not only away from their usual learning environments during the rāhui, but also faced additional whānau challenges, such as job uncertainty and loss of income due to the pandemic. To minimise the negative impacts of isolation, the InZone team provided laptops, calculators and even covered the cost of some internet connections to ensure rangatahi had all the resources they needed to keep studying. Regular health and well-being check-ins were conducted by the team to support the hauora of rangatahi and whānau.

The impact of the wrap-around support is now speaking for itself, with the majority of students returning to school at the same or even higher class levels than before. Perhaps the most powerful outcome is the confidence students feel in their ability to succeed. 

The InZone Education Foundation is a charitable trust that aims to inspire and support Māori and Pasifika youth to take their place in the cultural, economic and civic leadership of Aotearoa. You can learn more about their mahi here:

InZone’s mahi aroha story shows how people, whānau and communities can mobilise kindness for the benefit of Aotearoa. Share your stories of acts of kindness and mahi aroha with Volunteering New Zealand using #aotearoaofkindness