Kuru KaeKuru Kae, raised by his grandfather and of Cook Islands descent, was the first member of his extended family to study at university.  Kuru, a MATES Senior Mentee in 2008, believes having a MATES mentor helped him become more focused and disciplined in his studies. The support he received helped him identify his educational goals and the pathway towards achieving them.

“I’ve always been interested in helping people, especially [young people]. When I was a mentee, I was always wondering, ‘what’s next?’ and I was kind of scared because I didn’t know what was ahead.  It was good to have someone there to guide me, someone who’d been there. Parents can only get you so far, but with a mentor they know exactly what you’re going to go through. It’s really good to be prepared for it.”

Kuru points out that the great advantage of having a mentor from university is that they have recently been a high school student themselves, so they have a real understanding of the mentee’s world. 

Kuru Kae with his MATES mentees, 2013Five years later, while completing his BA(Hons) in Criminology at the University of Auckland, Kuru was “giving back” as a MATES mentor himself, providing the same mentoring support to Kelston Boys’ High students that he received in his last year at high school.

Kuru was proud to be a mentor, helping younger students gain an insight to a wider world, outside of the limits of their home, school and community lives. He found it “extremely rewarding” when mentees experienced success in their schoolwork, knowing that he’d had a role to play in the achievement.


Mentee Quote


Working as a mentor in MATES inspired Kuru’s interest in studying the reasons why youth from similar backgrounds choose different life paths.

Upon completing his Masters in Criminology, focused on youth crime, Kuru went to work at the Youth Law project.

Kuru believes the greatest strength of MATES is how it enables young people to gain the confidence they need to realise their potential. 

“So many kids have potential, although they have no idea they have it, and if someone could just open a piece of it, it will change their life forever,” he says.


VIEW VIDEO: MATES Mentoring at Kelston Boys – One News 2013

VIEW VIDEO: Kuru Kae on his Criminology Degree