Dr Rachael Ka'ai-Mahuta

Senior Lecturer - Te Ipukarea – The National Māori Language Institute

Rachael Ka'ai-Mahuta

Dr Rachael Ka'ai-Mahuta is motivated in giving back to those who helped in her educational journey.

Rachael, of Hawaiian, Cook Island, Samoan and Māori descent, started at AUT in 2011 after completing her Doctor of Philosophy.

“I’ve had many opportunities given to me throughout my academic career. I’ve had senior academics and mentors support me, acknowledged for various academic awards, and people opened their homes to me during my postgraduate research.

“Giving back to the people and communities who have supported me really drives me every day. I want to be the person who opens doors and provides opportunities for others.”

Paying it forward

Rachael says her work for Te Ipukarea and Te Whare o Rongomaurikura (International Centre for Language Revitalisation), has provided many highlights, in particular, working in the Cook Islands on the creation of the Dictionary of Cook Islands Languages

“It’s very fulfilling to be invited to work with communities on a professional level, but also on a personal level as well.

“It was a privilege to work with elders and speakers from the various islands of the Cook Islands, and be embraced by those communities who shared their language and stories with us.”

Working alongside like-minded, passionate people is uplifting, says Rachael.

“Our team is really passionate about the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori and other endangered, indigenous languages, and because of that, we go above and beyond– it’s not just a job to us.”

“I’m very proud of my Pacific genealogy. I was close to my grandfather and I feel a connection to him when I can give back and work within Pacific communities.”