The institute boasts 1964 students who identify as Maori, making up 12% of the student body.
Seven out of every 10 Maori students who enrol in courses complete them.
Ara Maori director Te Marino said one of the institute's initiatives was to increase the completion rate to have 90% of Maori students finishing their courses.
By welcoming Maori students and their whanau to the institute's wharenui, the students were provided with a familiar and safe environment in which they were introduced to additional pastoral care for the duration of their course, he said.
Students were welcomed with a haka by members of the institutes student body as well as staff.
More than 500 Maori students and their families were expected to attend the formal welcoming, however only a handful attended the event.
Marino said it was the first event of its kind and the institute would promote similar events throughout the year to engage with its Maori students.