We are delighted that University of Auckland student Sayali Samant has returned for another year of MATES. She is a mentor of our MATES Junior programme at Clendon Park School and Mangere East Primary School. Sayali describes her relationship with her mentees as two-way learning!


I was always keen on doing mentoring, and luckily I came across MATES which offers exactly that. As a mentor, I wanted to use my experiences to help mentees make their transition from primary to high school a little easier. It’s important for these adolescents to have peer support and encouragement so they can realise their true potential before going off to high school. This upcoming new phase of life may seem quite daunting. Looking back, I wish I had someone to chat with and ask questions to before stepping into this new phase of life.

For me, the best part of MATES is knowing that mentees are enjoying the activities and that they are excited about the session each week.

As a MATES Junior mentor working with Year 8 students, I get to be creative with planning my sessions and have activities that are both engaging and tailored to each mentee’s learning goals. In our 2-hour sessions, the first hour is usually focused on completing homework, doing maths worksheets, working on reading and writing, or other subjects mentees want help with. In the second hour we do activities like art, playing games, or playing sports with other mentees.

All four of my mentees have different interests and aspirations, so it’s great to see them working towards those and sharing their immediate and future goals with me. I would describe our bond as a two-way learning and tutoring process in which we all learn from and teach skills and ideas to each other.

I’m learning as a mentor how to be approachable and take the initiative when starting conversations. It is usually difficult for young people to talk to new people, so I need to make sure that they feel comfortable enough to chat with me or ask questions.

When I see my mentees coming to sessions motivated to learn, happy and growing in confidence in their abilities each week. I know I am making a difference – and that’s an amazing feeling!

Mentoring and Tutoring Education Scheme (MATES) is a programme that addresses the underachievement in the education of disadvantaged youth by working alongside schools to connect tertiary student Mentors with student Mentees at key educational transition points in Year 8 and Year 13.

MATES Senior Schools 2023

Aorere College

Auckland Girls Grammar School (AGGS)

Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate

Southern Cross Campus

Tamaki College

MATES Junior Schools 2023

Avondale Intermediate School

Clendon Park School

Finlayson Park School

Henderson Intermediate School

Mangere East Primary School

Papakura Intermediate School