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UC Choice


16 October 2023

Māori and Indigenous Studies | Law
Ngāti Tūwharetoa


You connected with UC while still in high school. What advantages did that give you?

I’d done lots of outreach programmes, including STAR and He Puna Pūtaiao, and gotten to know the Māori student support services staff. They were really helpful and made sure it was a smooth transition, so it was seamless.

You’ve got a very full plate with your studies! How has UC supported you?

The student support services are really helpful in making sure everything stays balanced. I work a lot with the Maōri student support services staff to make sure that my papers won’t clash too much in terms of assessment deadlines and ensure I have variety. I do a study plan with them every year.

What are some highlights of your UC student experience so far?

Law camp is really fun. All the 200 level law students go over a weekend; they run challenges and we go to the water park. For Te Akatoki, we have a weekly kapa haka, which is something I dove into straight away. It’s definitely a piece of me, and it’s been fantastic. And the Law Ball is always amazing, it’s massive and everyone gets dressed up.

You’re heavily engaged with Māori culture at UC. What inspired that?

I’m adopted, so I don’t get to engage with that side of me at home very much. In high school, there were very few Māori students, so the culture wasn’t pushed much. It had been a long time since I’d been engaged. It was only when I went to uni that I got back into it with kapa haka, started taking the language classes again, and being around other Māori.

Has that helped inspire your career direction?

Absolutely. In high school, Māori was only looked at as your culture; it didn't provide career opportunities. At uni, I realised there’s so much I can do with it. It ignited a passion, and now it’s a mission for me. I’d really like to work in indigenous rights, doing law regarding indigenous studies or human rights aspects.

If you see something cool outside of uni, don’t be too intimidated to take it. There are so many opportunities in Christchurch, in all sorts of different areas. If you’ve got an interest in something, or just a ‘say yes’ personality – do it! It can take you to some of the coolest places.

How does UC facilitate incorporating more diversity for everyone?

Café Reo welcomes anyone to come learn te reo, meet people who already speak it and have a kōrero with them, and they provide afternoon tea. We get a wide range of people that I didn’t expect, which is amazing. The kapa haka class had a big mix of people who engage with it, whether it’s their culture or not. And we have a Māori Law Students Association, Asian Law, Pasifika Law, Women in Law. It’s been really helpful in getting that support and encouragement for more diversity into the law school.

Why is the UC Māori Law Students Association so important to you?

It took a long time for me to realise that having both parts of me (law and Māori) in one place can be the best experience because you feel like you fully belong. It’s a bit more niche, a very different culture, so we provide targeted support. We know it can be isolating as a minority, so we also provide opportunities to meet other Māori law students across all the unis in NZ.

How do you unwind?

One of the biggest things about Christchurch is the fact that I can go from uni to the beach in 20 minutes – I absolutely love it. I chuck my surfboard in the car, go to my lectures, and then go out any chance I get. I love being outdoors, so it’s a nice change after being in a lecture theatre all day.

Any advice for other students?

There’s a whakataukī that I feel strongly about: Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui. The last bit, ‘manawanui,’ is what’s important to me and what I think is also key for other students. It means ‘to be steadfast/determined,’ which is a big part of going to university.

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