A celebration of whakawhanaungatanga

The third-year Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Huarahi Māori specialisation students ended their studies on a high note at the annual hui tuku tohu on Saturday.

The third-year Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Huarahi Māori specialisation students came together to celebrate.

Close to 200 people were welcomed onto Te Aka Matua ki Te Pou Hawaiki Marae on Saturday morning, as final-year Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Huarahi Māori specialisation students joined whānau, friends, staff and supporters to mark three years of learning, hard work and whanaungatanga. The annual hui tuku tohu (celebratory ceremony) brought the close-knit group together for one final day of celebration.

The Tohu Whakamaumaharatanga ki a Tūteira Pōhatu mō te reo Māori (Māori language memorial awards of Blackie Pōhatu) were presented to Tai Tokerau student Jessie Patch and Tāmaki Makaurau student Maxine Moeke, in recognition of their abilities to achieve excellence through te reo Māori.

Maxine says the event was a good way to acknowledge the hard work of all third-year students. “The best part of this programme has been the whakawhanaungatanga. I have formed lifelong friends and have a second whānau for life. I’ve also gained confidence to learn and extend my knowledge of te reo me ngā tikanga and my identity as a Māori.”

Tāmaki Makaurau student and award-winner Maxine Moeke (centre), with Te Puna Wānanga staff members Ella Newbold and Dr Peter Keegan.

She moved to Auckland three years ago to pursue her goal of becoming a teacher in a te reo Māori environment. “When I heard about the Huarahi Māori programme, I knew it would be best suited for me. With this degree, I’m able to teach in all primary schools, whether that be English medium, bilingual, total immersion or kura kaupapa.”

And the degree is already paying off, landing her a job as the rumaki teacher at Westmere Primary next year. “I’m looking forward to applying the personal philosophy I’ve developed at the University into my classroom and to instil into my students pride in who they are as Māori.”

Tai Tokerau student Jessie Patch says she was honoured to be recognised for her achievements. “Coming from a small-town community, receiving this award has definitely made my hapu proud,” she says. “I wouldn’t have made it this far without their support, as well as the wahine who studied alongside me and the lecturers who I now consider whanau.”

Jessie is looking forward to bringing her knowledge and skills back to the community she grew up in. “I’m lucky enough to be bringing my degree home to teach in a kura a iwi that I attended.”

Tai Tokerau student and award-winner Jessie Patch (centre), with Te Puna Wānanga staff members Veronica Peri and Māia Hetaraka.

Director Māori Medium Education Hēmi Dale says it’s important to celebrate students’ academic success in a Māori way, as an extended whānau.

“This group is diverse in many ways, yet they’ve developed strong relationships amongst each other,” says Hemi. “They’re extremely hard-working, supportive, reliable, professional, inquisitive, reflective, adaptive and committed to the sustenance of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.”

The annual celebration is organised by the Huarahi Māori second- and first-year students each year, and sees students come together from the Faculty of Education and Social Work’s Tai Tokerau and Epsom campuses. The Bachelor of Education (Teaching) students will officially graduate in May next year but for now, they have enjoyed a send-off to remember.

Established in 1997, the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Huarahi Māori specialisation has grown and developed teachers for the last 23 years. It qualifies students to become a Māori-medium teachers or teachers of te reo at primary and intermediate level.