'I think we were very lucky to go on five practical placements. That was where I had the biggest learning experiences...'
Te Whānau Aapanui, Tainui and Ngāpuhi
Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Primary), Teacher, Tua Marina School, Marlborough
Always a 'people person', it was while Wiki was working in the tourism industry that her colleagues urged her to develop her people skills further.
'My friends saw the way I was with children, and said I should to go to university and make the most of it,' she says. 'I always wanted to work with children, and I'm glad I took their advice.'
Once the decision was made, Wiki chose to study teaching at UC 'because I had heard that it was the best in New Zealand, and it was in a city that I hadn't explored much before – so it was an exciting new adventure.'
One of the things she liked most about her degree was the professional practice. 'I think we were very lucky to go on five practical placements, where we taught in a classroom situation. That was where I had the biggest learning experiences. I also believe that it prepared me for the reality of being a teacher.'
Wiki is full of praise for the many wider opportunities that are on offer to students at UC. 'There is the chance to meet and greet new people from all over the world. The facilities are great: the recreation centre, the cafés and so on. Then there are the parties, live gigs and the sheer enjoyment of being a university student. I love the new friends I made through my time there, and how we were such a close-knit group.'
Another opportunity that she threw herself into was mentoring students through the Māori Development Team. 'I enjoyed all the support available to me at UC – not only from the lecturers but also the Māori support. I kind of stumbled across the mentoring programme, but I thought, yes, it is my last year here, so I should encourage, support and share my knowledge with the new Māori students.'
After completing her degree, Wiki went on to have a baby and then to work for the Marlborough Primary Health Organisation as their Active Families Coordinator, supporting children and parents in getting more active together – 'such a rewarding position'.
She is now a fully-registered teacher at Tua Marina School in Marlborough, teaching Year 2 students. 'It is pretty exciting and I'm looking forward to the new term beginning,' she says.
Wiki adds that her goals in life are to 'make a positive impression on our younger generation, become an intermediate teacher, and live a happy, healthy life to the fullest.'