How did you arrive at UC?
I did a STAR course here when I was in Year 13. I really liked it. I was thrown in the deep end but all the lecturers were really amazing and supportive.
How’s your academic experience been?
Great! I’m studying History but it’s been really hands-on. This summer I did an internship with Aotahi Māui Lab. I researched contemporary indigenous leadership models around the world to inform the development of Ngāi Tahu’s leadership programme. That experience has helped me see how my History skills can be applied to other things. I also made some really good connections.
Tell us about being a Tuakana.
A Tuakana is a Māori student mentor. I did it last year and I'm doing it again this year. You get given a few first year students to guide and look after. We meet up once a week, check in with them and see how they’re going. It’s a big thing in our culture to have support from other Māori people.
Favourite thing about being a Tuakana?
I feel helpful! It's really cool seeing how people change. A sense of belonging can be an issue for Māori students, so helping overcome that is a big thing. I still keep in contact with my mentees from last year and I’m happy to say that they’re all still here.
What’s been your experience of biculturalism at UC?
People sometimes view the South Island as not very biculturally competent. But Māori students at UC get the same support they’d get anywhere else. UC puts a new face on Māori identity. You don't have to fit into the classic criteria. There are lots of ways to get involved, from research to kapa haka. You can do as much or as little as you want.
How have you grown at UC?
I've always been very academic and that's my favourite thing, but the way I’ve grown most is in finding my cultural identity. I’m the first person in my family to explore my Māori heritage. It’s given me a sense of fulfillment, I feel like a whole person.