Scholarship recipients paving foundations for te reo Māori

Sonny and Mona Riini Memorial Scholarship recipients Anaru Kaiwai, Ngāroimata Morgan and Mauri Marino all share three common goals: inspiring tamariki to succeed, sharing their culture and language, and giving back to their communities through te reo Māori.

Left to right: Anaru Kaiwai, Ngāroimata Morgan and Mauri Marino

The three students were awarded Sonny and Mona Riini Memorial Scholarships worth $4,500 at an Epsom Campus ceremony last night. They are all heading towards their final year of the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Huarahi Māori programme, preparing to teach in Māori immersion, kura kaupapa and bilingual primary and intermediate schools in 2022.

Ngāroimata was working as a kapa haka tutor in Kaipara when she enrolled in the programme two years ago. She couldn’t write anything in te reo Māori back then, but she had seen a gap in her community that she wanted to help fill.

“I came to the realisation that my community was lacking te reo Māori speakers, educators and performers,” Ngāroimata says. “I wanted to help fill that void, and fuel passion, fire and pride to be Māori within others. When I was in school, I didn’t feel like it was ‘cool’ to be Māori, but it is! I want to be a positive role model, share our language and encourage future generations to embrace our culture.”

Mauri began his teaching journey to give students the tools they need to succeed in an evolving world, while maintaining their cultural identities.

I love teaching in Māori medium classrooms because I believe the philosophies, cultural practices and lessons embedded in Māoridom serve as a positive social foundation for all ethnicities.

Mauri Marino Sonny and Mona Riini Memorial Scholarship winner

“My goal as a teacher is to break negative stereotypical cycles that continue to impact society,” he says. “I believe that through education I can equip students and families with tools to identify, address and break these inter-generational traumas and create a generation of critical thinkers, with the hope of a trickle-down effect for future generations – a generation of students who are taught how to think, not what to think."

Based at Tai Tokerau Campus, Anaru chose a teaching career because he loves building relationships with tamariki.

“I think with the right approaches to teaching and learning, education can be a positive way for tamariki to succeed. I enjoy exploring different subjects and using mātauranga I have previously learnt, and continue to learn, to develop my own teaching practices for the better.”

Wining a Sonny and Mona Riini Memorial Scholarship is an honour that means a lot to the three students.

“At first, I think I wanted the mana of winning the scholarship,” Ngāroimata says. “But now I just think about how I get to bring the scholarship and knowledge back to my community and show people that you can go out and explore education, and bring it to your home again.

“When I finish my studies, I’d love to teach at the kura kaupapa back in Kaipara, the area that I loved growing up in. I think the most important thing is to normalise te reo Māori in our community, add to the knowledge of the area and develop strong Māori foundations as we grow alongside the rest of the community."

The Sonny and Mona Riini Memorial Scholarship was established in 1998 in recognition of the significant contribution made by Sonny and Mona to the Faculty of Education and Social Work, particularly their support as whakaruruhau (mentors) of the Huarahi Māori programme.