Wananga landing Wananga landing
Student story

Maria | Whanaungatanga.

02 August 2023

Ngāi Tahu and Ngāpuhi - Bachelor of Arts


What was your journey to study at UC?

After helping my husband run our drainage business I needed a change, so five years ago I started learning Te Reo Māori. Suddenly I knew what I was born to do: to learn Te Reo Māori and reconnect with my culture. My daughter was at UC and she said to me, why don't you come to uni? So, I did!

You’re in your third year now. How has the experience been?

My first semester was harder than I thought. Everything was so new. I was able to reach out to the Māori support team (Te Waka Pāpakano) and my daughter to help me through. But as time went on, I got to know the ropes and understand how everything works. Now I’m flying!

What are you enjoying most about your program?

Whanaungatanga – building relationships. That's been the highlight for me. Every once in a while, I find myself stopping and thinking with amazement, I'm actually doing a degree, and in my fifties too! I find that so buy.

What else have you gotten up to as a UC student?

This year I'm running Café Reo. It’s a weekly event where students and lecturers come together to practice their te reo. I was a bit scared to take it on because I'm not very fluent, but lots of people encouraged me to give it a go, so I said yes.

What would you like to achieve with Café Reo?

I have so many ideas I’m actually having to reign myself in. For starters I’ve created a bit more of a café environment and I’ve had amazing feedback. My main focus though is on health and wellbeing, from the food to our time together. When I take on something, I want to do it really well.

Where are you hoping your degree will lead?

My original my goal was to make a difference for Māori children. Then Café Reo came about and that’s felt like a natural fit for me. I’m not sure exactly where I’ll end up, but I know I'm going in the right direction and I'm happy to see where I end up.

How does it feel being a more mature student?

I feel really comfortable here, especially at Te Ao Marama. It feels like home. That’s because I've chosen something that I'm truly passionate about. When I have found myself surrounded by 18 year-olds, I've just decided to embrace it. So I make friends with everybody and get to know them as people.

What would you say to others in similar shoes to you?

Find the thing that you’re really passionate about – and if you don't know what that is, get out there and try things. Give yourself time and permission to ask yourself, what do I really want to do. A degree is an amazing thing to pursue and the flow on effects are endless. I know in my heart that that I'm on the right path.

More student stories
Privacy Preferences

By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.