Alice Karetai

Alice Karetai's Master of Indigenous Studies gave her the freedom to study the subjects that were relevant to her, while keeping a strong Māori focus.

Alice Karetai chatting with a colleague

Key facts

Iwi: Ngāi Tahu
Programme: Master of Indigenous Studies (MIndigSt)

“During my BA, one of the courses I took inspired me so much, and a decade later coming back to the same subject has been just as exciting. As a mature student with children, I feel I am a role model for them and am making them proud.

“The idea for my masters came from studying Pacific poetry with Associate Professor Selina Tusitala-Marsh. I had been doing Māori weaving for a while and began to see our textiles as texts, and wished to explore their meaning. Being able to interview expert kairāranga and kaiwhatu was amazing and the highlight of my study.

My tertiary studies have been a journey of healing to reconnect with my heritage, Māori and European.

“My masters degree allowed me the freedom to study subjects relevant to me, while keeping a strong Māori focus. I concentrated on art but I can see the potential to combine it with other subjects, like biology or even mathematics. The degree is about taking what you know and putting it in perspective, and that is life changing.

“There is a strong community of Māori and Pacific postgraduate students at the University. The staff and students in Māori Studies are a wealth of knowledge and were a great source of support for me.

“I believe that postgraduate study is more about finding your specialised niche than becoming part of a qualified crowd. In New Zealand, every field that involves interactions with people has (or should have) positions available that focus on cultural competency and relationships with tangata whenua. I got a job immediately after handing in my final dissertation. With the MIndigSt on your CV, you become a diamond.”