Mereana Wi-Kaitaia

'I get a kick out of investigating our past, asking questions about it, and evaluating any improvements we have made today...''

  • Mereana Wi-Kaitaia

(Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu)

Studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in History and Māori and Indigenous Studies with minors in Anthropology and Art History and Theory

As a strong all-rounder at high school in Tauranga, Mereana could have chosen any subject for her university study.

'It was either History or Mechanical Engineering!' she says. 'I had to ask myself which one would be truly rewarding for me. I eventually decided that immersing myself in the history of my kiwi, Pasifika and Māori cultures was the right option — and I was right!

'I get a kick out of investigating our past, asking questions about it, and evaluating any improvements we have made today. I could not think of a better area to specialise in than the history of my people, which is why I double major in History and Māori and Indigenous Studies.

'The UC Arts degree opened up corners of the world that I never knew existed. Both History and Māori Studies taught me the ugly truth about New Zealand's history, which I never learned in high school. However, I felt I could never fully understand Māori history until I saw it through the language, which is why I wanted to take some Te Reo courses.

'So the best benefits were personal — my study allowed me to think about my own upbringing and the environments I was raised in.'

Before switching her interests to New Zealand's history at university, Mereana had focused on war history but her main career ambition is still to become a curator.

'Ideally I would love to specialise in Māori in the Great War — things like the Pioneer Unit and Māori at the home front.'

Mereana says that, having decided to come to UC because of the courses, the services on offer were the icing on the cake for a student away from home.

'A bonus was the campus accommodation facilities. They're affordable and fun social spaces where you can meet awesome people from all over the world.

Merean's typical day involves going to the Rec Centre with a group of friends in the morning, and then on to the Macmillan Brown Centre for research between classes.

'I usually meet up with my classmates and we help with each other's study. I'll often go back to the library after dinner.'

Things are going extremely well for Mereana, who has won the Pasifika Achievement Award for the College of Arts' top first-year student. She is a huge proponent of the Bachelor of Arts.

'The Arts degree is really flexible and it is possible to take other subjects from other disciplines, like Law. If you're passionate about taking Arts subjects and you have lots of ideas or opinions, the learning is not just from the lecturer — the lecturers learn from you too. Tutorials are your turn to talk for an hour, so use them!'

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