Zealynne.

Bachelor of Arts.

How are you enjoying UC?

I love it. I've met some of my best friends here. I went to high school in the North Island so it's been a big change. There aren't as many Māori people here but they're still just as open. It's a beautiful campus too.

Most memorable moment so far?

There's been a few! Last year I was awarded my first uni scholarship. I was fortune to be able to research a couple of different projects through Aotahi: School of Māori and Indigenous studies. I was also elected as Vice President of Te Akatoki, the Māori Students Association.

What do you do at Te Akatoki?

We cater to the cultural and social needs of our Māori students. We run events like whanau days with food and activities. We also go to the annual conference, Te Huinga Tauira o Te Mana Ākonga, which is a gathering of Maori students from different universities. It's a few days of kapa haka, debates, sports and lots of networking.

What’s the significance of Te Akatoki to you?

I came down from Hamilton only knowing one person at UC. Te Akatoki was the first place I went to. I made a lot of friends and it opened up opportunities for me in terms of my studies.

"I've had to really grow for myself. It's given me a good sense of my own independence."

How have you changed here?

I've had a lot of one-on-one time with my lecturers which has helped me grow. From first year when I could barely do my readings to where I am now – a dedicated student! It's been awesome to have their support. It's helped me develop, not just academically but in my confidence as well.

Best thing about UC?

Probably just the quirkiness of it all! I was once asked how I would stereotype UC and I couldn't give an answer. There’s no ‘one type’ here. Everyone is unique. I also love how many different ethnicities there are. It's been really beautiful to see how interested they are in Te Reo Māori too. It's a really positive place.

So you’re glad you made the move?

Absolutely. I think I’ve learned a lot more by coming down here than if I’d just stuck with my friends up North. I've had to really grow for myself. It's given me a good sense of my own independence.