Auriole Lynnette Ruka

Auriole Lynnette Ruka

Pou Manawhakahaere – Group Manager, Governance and Engagement, Northland Regional Council
Master of Business in Management

Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Maniapoto

She wants to make a difference for her whānau, hapū and iwi and represent her tupuna, says Auriole Lynnette Ruka who completed a Master of Business in Management.

“AUT was a fit for my cultural and personal values and I had heard good things about their lecturers from other whānau members. That was the determining factor for choosing AUT. For my master’s degree research, I wanted to specifically share the stories and voices of young Māori women from Te Taitokerau, Northland, and their career aspirations.

“Given pandemics, social and cultural disparities in Te Taitokerau, the collective mana of wāhine Māori is critical to the wellbeing of our communities and young Māori women provided valuable insights to both the challenges and solutions they are forging with ‘kaupapa driven’ careers.”

She says she appreciated having lecturers that challenged her thinking and broadened her opportunities to bring mana and strength to her studies.

“I’m really grateful for my supervisors Dr Nimbus Staniland and Dr Irene Ryan, faculty staff and my whānau that pushed me to finish my thesis and produce something I’m really proud of. It was really tough to focus on my studies because of all the other roles I had as a full-time senior manager, business owner, trustee and other roles in my commitment to build resilient communities.  This was exacerbated when COVID-19 hit, and my son suffered a stroke not long after. AUT staff and supervisors were with me all the way, checking in and offering me solutions to get through difficult times.”

Giving a voice to whānau, hāpu and iwi
As the group manager for governance and engagement at the Northland Regional Council, Auriole makes sure that the interests of whānau, hāpu and iwi are represented.

“I ensure that whānau, hāpu and iwi are represented at the decision making table and if they aren’t then I’m there to support the regional council in their commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It’s also important that wāhine Māori see themselves represented at the table as well. As the first wāhine Māori in this role within the executive leadership team, I believe my success was directly correlated with AUT and I was humbled by the acknowledgements of my supervisors.

“I’ve faced many challenges of discrimination and stigma in my career journey, so I’m proud that in spite of all those experiences I’ve been able to forge my own unique career with my whānau beside me and my tupuna always guiding me.”

While she has had many proud achievements in her career, one recent project stands out to her.

“Recently I was able to lead councillors, iwi and hapū leaders team through the development and adoption of a Te Tiriti o Waitangi Strategy and Implementation Plan representing a three-year process of building cultural competence and leadership within the council.  As a researcher, postgraduate study sustains diversity of ideas and thinking that helps you to look broader than what’s in front of you so communities can be empowered to find their own solutions.”

Advice for other students
Auriole’s advice for other students is simple: don’t give up and ask for awhi.

“My advice is to never give up and to remember that there is support there if you need it. As wāhine Māori we don’t want to burden others, and this is still my biggest struggle; asking for help when times are really tough. I learned that others want to awhi and it’s not selfish to focus on your research. It’s imperative we all take the time to study and learn for our own personal growth to ensure whānau and communities thrive. This is what our tupuna have taught us across generations for the wellbeing of all our tamariki mokopuna.”

There is a proverb from a particular Māori elder she also considers valuable advice.

“I concluded my research with a whakataukī from one of our great rangatira and tupuna of Ngātihine, Ta Hemi Henare, Sir James Henare: ‘Kua tawhiti kē tō haerenga mai, kia kore e haere tonu. He nui rawa ō mahi, kia kore e mahi tonu – We have come too far not to go further; we have done too much not to do more.’”