MATES has been partnering with Auckland Girls’ Grammar School (AGGS) for over 20 years and this long history is a result of the continued value and appreciation that the school and students place on the MATES programme.

Year 13 can be a challenging year, particularly for students with issues related to self-confidence, both in academic and personal aspects. Every Tuesday after school the group of Year 13 students (mentees) meet in the school library where they spend two hours paired with tertiary students (mentors) for tutoring and mentoring sessions to help prepare them to reach their educational goals.

MATES is a popular programme at AGGS, and students must apply for it at the end of their Year 12. Many of these students are the first in their families to have the opportunity to pursue higher education, making the support and guidance of a mentor who has already walked the path to university invaluable. MATES mentors play a crucial role in supporting the mentees as they navigate their final year of high school, motivating them to overcome challenges and embrace their goals.

Maggie Hames, Careers Advisor at the school is the key advocate for MATES. She says the main goals for AGGS in offering MATES are to ensure more students achieve an endorsement in NCEA Level 3, grow in confidence, enjoy learning, and go on to become lifelong learners. In recent years she has seen a shift in career aspirations with more students aiming towards study in health sciences and engineering because of the strong vocational pathways available.

 MATES mentors, Lester, Margaret, Maddy (MATES Coordinator) and Nasili (from left to right)

Margaret, a former student of Auckland Girls' Grammar School, says it is special to be able to give back to her community. Margaret is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Science conjoint degree, with majors in psychology, Chinese, and statistics, and this is Margaret’s fourth year as a mentor. She says, “Being able to foster a relationship with students to be the best version of themselves and encourage them to achieve their goals beyond high school is rewarding.” 

All mentors at AGGS agree MATES is rewarding to be part of knowing they are changing lives, and they value the relationships they grow with the mentees. Lester, who is in his final year pursuing a Bachelor of Science with a major in psychology, says, “I have created space for my mentees to talk to me about things that have happened in their schooling life they need to just take time to offload and reset.”

Their diverse expertise and backgrounds are invaluable to the MATES programme.