Whitireia student wins inaugural Māori and Pacific scholarship from publisher Penguin Random House NZ

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Wellingtonian Luke Finnigan has been awarded the first ever Māori and Pacific Publishing Scholarship thanks to a collaboration with Whitireia Community Polytechnic Ltd and Penguin Random House New Zealand (PRH).

The scholarship offers funding for a Māori or Pacific student to study the Graduate Diploma in Publishing at Whitireia. It also includes travel to the Penguin Random House head office in Auckland twice a year for hands-on experience in Aotearoa New Zealand’s biggest local and international publishing house.

Luke Finnigan, the first ever Māori and Pacific Publishing Scholarship recipient.

The NZ Māori and Pacific scholarship was created in 2020 to reduce barriers to equity, and encourage diversity and inclusivity in publishing in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Luke, who identifies as NZ Māori of Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, has worked in the book and literary industry for the past 10 years, including as Festival Coordinator for VERB Wellington (formerly LitCrawl) and working at Unity Books in Wellington.

Luke says: “This scholarship provides me with an amazing entry to the publishing industry in New Zealand. I am honoured to have been awarded this scholarship and I am very excited for the year of study ahead. Doors like this don’t open often so I will be making the most of everything I can!”

Head of Publishing at PRH Claire Murdoch says: “We were lucky to receive a number of strong applications from talented and eligible people, confirming the need for a scholarship like this one, but Luke’s was a true standout. He’ll be able to apply what he learns at Whitireia in the office to any number of future pathways in our industry. I’m also interested in how PRH and the wider industry might learn from his own ideas on inclusivity and diversity in published work in NZ.”

“While representation of Māori and Pasifika in NZ publishing is growing, I feel that it is too often categorised as solely ‘indigenous’,” Luke says. “While this is also important, I would like to see cultural ideals incorporated in New Zealand literature in such ways that push these ideals into the forefront, to normalise and educate in a way that is more accessible. I want more readers to learn and enjoy the rich heritage that is present but too often overlooked.”

Senior publishing tutor at Whitireia Odessa Owens says, “This is an exciting partnership with industry. Our course is a gateway into publishing, so we’re committed to supporting and celebrating diversity.”

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