TE AO MĀORI & SCIENCE.

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Grace. Science and Arts.
Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi

Why did you choose your subjects?

I've actually changed degrees a few times. I went from engineering to science, and after a really inspiring visit to Florida with the Student Volunteer Army (SVA), I decided to add an arts degree, specialising in Te Reo and Māori and Indigenous studies.

What opportunities have your Māori studies opened up for you?

Bringing different subjects together has given me a more holistic look at how science and communities interact. I'm interested in how indigenous knowledge and ways of looking at the world can contribute to wider scientific issues such as climate change.

What was the Florida trip with the SVA all about?

A school over there had experienced a shooting and started a movement called ‘March for our Lives’. They were interested in finding out about how the SVA had kept its momentum and relevance well beyond the earthquake. They came to visit us for a week, and then we went to visit them. We got to meet with students, lecturers and politicians, as well as see some amazing sights in the USA.

What has the SVA added to your UC student experience?

I joined in second year and can't imagine having experienced university without it. It's really helped me become more confident through speaking opportunities and I've connected with people throughout the Christchurch community.

You’ve been a mentor as well?

I’ve been involved in the tuākana programme for the last two years. We get paired with students and can help them out with their subject or just uni life in general. I enjoy seeing how the tēina, or mentees, grow from the experience. Last year my teina joined the SVA! She’s still part of it and doing great.

"There’s a wealth of robust scientific knowledge in a range of areas which deserves equal recognition. I would love to help create a platform to achieve that."

You're from the North Island. What's your impression of UC from a bicultural perspective?

It's continually growing. This year's Māori Language Week was bigger than ever. Te Akatoki, the Māori Students’ Association, put out a video about how to pronounce the te reo building names correctly. I thought that was great because getting the names right adds a sense of mana, or respect. Plus you got 50% off your coffee if you ordered it in te reo Māori. I think they should do that all the time!

How would you like to make a difference in the world?

I’d love to see the perspectives of global indigenous peoples be put in the spotlight. There’s a wealth of robust scientific knowledge in a range of areas which deserves equal recognition. I would love to help create a platform to achieve that.

And is UC helping you to make that difference?

Definitely! I hadn't even planned on doing Māori Studies and didn't know there was an academic path towards what I'm doing now. It's happened by surprise but I'm really enjoying it and excited about where it can lead.