Kairapu manager

Arts graduate Hannah Lees is helping disrupt inequities in her role as Kairapu manager for non-profit Ako Mātātupu.

Key facts

Career: Kairapu manager at Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ
Programme: Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Arts (Honours); Master of Arts
Subject: English + Philosophy

“In my final year of high school I was pretty set on an engineering pathway. I was taking physics, chemistry, and calculus, and engaging in the national Future Problem Solving programme. However, taking an English paper in Year 13 at the University of Auckland through the Young Scholars Programme changed my mind. I knew then that English was for me and here I am - still studying and advocating for English and the arts.

“I am currently Kairapu Manager at the educational non-profit Ako Mātātupu. Our vision is to work with and for young people in Aotearoa so that they may realise their full potential, particularly in education settings.

“My role is in serving and connecting the alumni and allies of our flagship teaching and leadership programme as they seek to disrupt inequities both in education and in society more broadly. I write and curate editorial content for our network of teachers and leaders, set up kaupapa events, manage applications for funding or other forms of support for projects, and have a hand in the strategic direction of our community of change-makers.

“Crafting meaningful questions of inquiry and being truly open to hearing and analysing a variety of responses is essential in building a social change movement. We cannot get anywhere by timidly towing a cliched line. 

We have to have the skill to speak up and, more importantly, the openness to listen. In my roles my assumptions are challenged every day. It’s from my Arts study that I first learned how to sit with cognitive discomfort and embrace ideas across lines of difference.

“There is nothing more important today than a broad and insightful understanding of the world and why it is the way it is. An Arts degree gives you the flexibility to study a topic in depth that you are truly passionate about.

"The soft skills and insight that you will gain through pursuing a subject with enthusiasm lays the groundwork for a meaningful life and a meaningful career."