driller2000: My perspective - 43 year old male of Maori (Ngapuhi) descent with a BE (Civil) from Akl Uni and I have worked as a professional engineer for 20 years
None of this would have been possible without the scholarships I received (ie. DSIR and Rose Hellaby Trust) to support me through my degree course. This is due to fact the that I was raised by a loving mum, who happened to be on the DPB, so we had limited financial means - she did however impress upon both myself and my sister (Who subsequently gained an LLB from Akl Uni) the value of an education.
I was Dux of my school, with a solid A Bursary - so standard entry path to Akl Uni Eng School. So the affirmative action piece for me was solely financial - so I fully earned both my place in the class and my degree.
As part of the deal I had to keep passing each year for the funding to remain in place.
Total funding received over 4 years was approx $10k - and it made all the difference. For the record I have refunded this investment made in me, back into the tax system many times over - and I am happy to do so if some it provides someone else a similar opportunity to the one I was fortunate enough to receive.
Furthermore my education will also enable me to support my hapu/marae as they look at options to improve their facilities and future.
As the first in a large whanau to attend university, I hope that it has also provided an example of an education based path for my them to perhaps consider as part of their future.
Trust the above makes it clear why I support such programmes.
I applaud you coming from humble beginnings and achieving well too (I am from the same financially challenged background).
I am struggling however to see how you could not have achieved your degrees without your scholarship. Surely you would have been entitled to the same financial resources that others without the scholarship would have been able to get, or did what most of the people in my courses did, and get a part time job to help with a shortfall?
Secondly, your comment about tax, it appears to me you are saying it was an act of benevolence you have paid the grant back in tax, but tax isn't optional, and you would have paid the same amount in tax regardless, so unless you have paid more tax than required, equal to the amount of your scholarship you haven't really "given back to allow others to participate".
Please note I am not attacking your achievements in any way, I applaud all those who overcome adversity to make something of themselves. It's excellent that you are giving back to your Marae and Whanau and THIS I consider to be a true move toward repayment of your grant/scholarship.