Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting)
TV, Te Reo and The Art of Balance.
TV host Petra Bagust got her start presenting regional music while studying Fine Arts at UC. She currently enjoys a busy portfolio of activities including motherhood, presenting on The Project and studying full immersion Te Reo Māori. Petra is inspired by new ideas and making a positive impact. “There’s an incredible opportunity for New Zealand to weave together Te Ao Māori and Te Ao Pākehā, the two worldviews. The power of two perspectives has the potential to be world changing.”
What's it like being a TV presenter and personality?
In New Zealand, it's marvelous. We’re a remarkably friendly nation. There’s an essence of egalitarian that means being a celebrity is usually pretty low key. People say hi to me all the time. I love it. I joke that it’s like having lots of friends that don't require maintenance!
Is being on TV stressful, fun or both?
It depends on what's at stake at any given time. If there's a whole crew waiting for you to get your bit right then there's a healthy sense of adrenal stress. If you're doing a piece to camera on the day of Will and Kate's wedding, and you nail the kiss as the planes fly over – that's a magical moment! I enjoy the stress of performing. It's a happy place for me. At the same time, you don't want stay at that level all the time.
Can you describe a typical day in the life for you?
At the moment I'm doing a mix of things. I’m on The Project every couple of weeks, I'm at Parenting Place New Zealand one day a week and I'm doing full immersion Te Reo three days a week. I call it a portfolio of activities. Every day is different which suits my personality perfectly.
What’s inspired your commitment to learning Te Reo Māori?
I think we are tremendously influenced by our culture. There’s an incredible opportunity for New Zealand to weave together Te Ao Māori and Te Ao Pākehā, the two worldviews. The power of two perspectives is fantastic – combining the circular, holistic way of being Māori and the Western drive for progress has potential to be world changing.
You studied Fine Arts at UC. What was your path to broadcasting?
I remember my father saying, “What kind of a career will you have with Fine Arts?” And I said, “Dad, there's more to education than getting a job.” Then halfway through my degree I got a job presenting regional music on TV five nights a week. They asked me to give up my degree, but I refused. Completing things is important to me. So I did art school during the day and TV at night. That’s when I got my lucky break and landed the gig at Ice TV, which was a bit of a cult show in the 90’s.
Do you still do any Fine Art?
I do! I started painting again about four years ago. I did it purely for the joy of it, and it was so delightful! I set myself a project to do an ink painting every day and carried on from there. It's refreshing to do something that's not for an audience.
Why did you decide to go to UC?
My parents had moved to Christchurch so my decision to go to UC was twofold – to be connected to my whānau and to go to one of the top art schools in New Zealand. For me, the highlight of being at UC was the creative community. I enjoyed working with other like-minded people, supporting and challenging each other. You really put yourself on the wall when you make art. It's personal.
You need an element of safety and support, and students at UC provided that.
What’s the value of studying Fine Art?
People might look at art and say it has no use. But it adds to the conversation about our community. Even students sometimes think it's indulgent to study, but I believe there's a mysterious value to creativity. It reminds us of the balance in life.
Art brings beauty and joy to a society that can be focused on the daily grind or the relentless pursuit of success.
What motivates you as a person?
What gets me out of bed in the morning is the idea that we can fulfil our potential. With encouragement, determination and hard work, we can be who we are meant to be. Every single one of us has so much to offer but we can't get anywhere on our own. Every day we impact and influence the people around us, and vice versa.
My aim is to be positive and encouraging of others.
What advice would you give to future tertiary students?
Approach it wholeheartedly and intentionally. Make the decision within yourself to get everything you can out of whatever you’re doing. And keep thinking about how you can reapply what you’re learning. People might say I never used my Fine Arts degree, but I absolutely have. I learned self-motivation, self-discipline, how to research, how to critique. There is no wasted learning. So my advice is to go in boots and all and get everything you can out of your education.