Reintegration Kaiārahi, PARS (People at Risk Solutions)
Master of Arts in Māori Development student
Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice
She would love to help create change within New Zealand’s justice system, says Hope Hana-Wheeler who graduated from AUT with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice.
“I’ve always been fascinated with crime and the underlying causes behind offending. I really wanted to make a change in society and study something I was interested in, so the decision to study criminology was easy for me.
“After completing my Bachelor of Arts, I’m now working for PARS (People at Risk Solutions); a Kaupapa Māori organisation that uses a holistic approach to help tangata reintegrate into the community. I’m passionate about all things Māori, and the overrepresentation of my people in the justice system is upsetting to say the least. Having the opportunity to work in this space is amazing as I get to meet so many people and hear their stories. Getting the privilege to walk alongside some tangata on their healing journey can be beautiful and rewarding mahi.”
Her ultimate goal is to make a positive difference to her community.
“I hope to one day be making waves in the criminal justice system to help empower, support and heal my people instead of imprisoning them.”
Encouraging and supportive
She has enjoyed the culture at AUT, says Hope who received an AUT Undergraduate Scholarship in 2019 and 2020 to support her studies. She also received a scholarship for the first year of her master’s degree.
“AUT is a very accepting and encouraging place, and they really look out for you. There’s so much support for everyone.”
Hope has offered support to many other students herself – as a tāura kaiwhatu, a Māori peer mentor, she shared what she had learnt in her Bachelor of Arts papers with younger students. She was also involved in Tupu Kupu and helped run the AUT Māori Instagram account, where she shared te reo every day.
“I was very involved with the Māori Liaison team and the Learning Communities team, and they made my time at university that much better. Being involved with the Māori student support team helped me become more in touch with who I am as a Māori and opened up opportunities to me that go beyond an academic level.”
Advice for other students
Hope has some great advice for other students.
“My advice to other students is to work hard, plan, have fun and reach out for help when you need it.”
Her other piece of advice is to find people who encourage and empower you to reach your full potential.
“I love how accepting and welcoming our whānau here at AUT are. They make you feel like you’re part of something bigger and really build you up.”