Family celebrates special Graduation Day

10 May 2018
Roimata Haynes in graduation regalia, 2018.
Roimata Manaia Haynes (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto).

Roimata Manaia Haynes (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto) says her precious daughter helped carry her through the hard work and years of study required for the masters degree she graduates with from the University of Auckland today.

As Roimata, 30, and her family celebrate her academic achievement, they are also able to celebrate 8-year-old Manaia’s progress and an end to the years of invasive medical procedures she had to undergo in order to lead a normal life.

Manaia was born with Tracheal Stenosis, or narrowed windpipe, a rare congenital condition which causes breathing difficulties including severe respiratory problems. Diagnosed at 11 months, Manaia underwent major and life-threatening surgery followed by many years of medical care.

But after years of treatment, the future looks bright and Manaia can look forward to a normal life.

“You would almost never know now that she has had severe tracheal problems, she really is our miracle baby and she, along with my whanau, unquestionably carried me through my studies” Roimata says.

Fluent in te reo Māori, Roimata initially graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree – Huarahi Māori specialisation, but while teaching in rūmaki reo (total immersion Māori teaching) she recognised a real need for speech and language services.

“It turns out that one of the Ear, Nose and Throat specialists that operated on Manaia ran the Anatomy and Physiology paper on the course and when I saw the name, I thought it was a ‘tohu wairua’ (spiritual calling), so I just had to do it,” Roimata says.

Now working as a Speech and Language Therapist at Ohomairangi Trust in Auckland, an early intervention service providing assistance for tamariki with complex communication and/or swallowing needs, Roimata loves being based in the community.

“I get to speak te reo Māori to my colleagues on a daily basis, I feel very privileged and honoured to be in this role.”

A valued mentor and an inspiration to her fellow students while studying, Roimata has one piece of advice for young Māori: find something that you’re passionate about and pour your heart and soul into it.

“Keep your head high because as a people, Māori are incredibly talented and resilient so surround yourself with strong and loving support and don’t ever believe that you can’t do it. You can.”

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Anne Beston
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University of Auckland

Tel: +64 9 923 3258
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