Mātai News

Mātai, Tōnui Collab sign Memorandum of Understanding to share space at new research facility

Gisborne medical research institute Mātai has agreed a space sharing agreement with Tōnui Collab that will provide a physical space for Tōnui to continue to provide science and technology learning opportunities for tamariki in Tairāwhiti.

The Gisborne Herald, 10 August 2023

Under a Memorandum of Understanding Tōnui will move in once the new $5 million Mātai building, under construction on Childers Road, is complete.

In 2021 Tōnui adopted a mobile strategy “Tōnui ki Uta” to address barriers to access to hands-on science learning by going out to schools and kura across te Tairāwhiti. Its work covers a broad range of activities, including virtual reality, digital art, animation, chemistry, electronics and game development using pūrākau Māori as the foundation for the exploration.


While Tōnui ki Uta has been very successful at addressing access, it has limited the ability for the Tōnui Collab team to expose tamariki and rangatahi to the full diversity of science activities due to the challenges of transporting some technologies.

“The partnership between Tōnui Collab and Mātai creates opportunities to strengthen STEMM (science, technology,  engineering, mathematics, matauranga) pathways,” Tōnui education director Shanon O’Connor said.

“This will also help make more visible the types of roles in science and technology that our students can pursue. The sharing of space is the first step in a vision to amplify more opportunities for young people and their whānau to get hands-on with science.”

Mātai chief operating officer Leigh Potter said the MOU fitted with the Mātai goal of providing pathways to inspire youth in science and technology fields.

“Tamariki have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of hands on activities through the Tōnui Collab workshops, and to also see science in action with the close proximity to the Mātai researchers. We would love to see many more of our rangatahi aspiring to careers in the science fields, in particular, medical innovation and research.”

Tōnui provide STEMM learning opportunities for around 8500 young people every year. This is a combination of school group STEMM wānanga, after school clubs, holiday programmes, and marae-based STEMM wānanga.

As part of the next stage of the Mātai campus development, the research institute aims to build a dedicated education and state-of-the-art science centre. The aim is to provide an immersive and interactive learning experience for students of all ages. Investment for the centre will be sought through philanthropic and other support, from organisations seeking to promote opportunities for our young people, and innovation in the region as well as advancements in medical research.

■ Dawson Building Company is carrying out the build which is due to be completed at the end of the year.