Letitia Taikato

Letitia Taikato

Bachelor of Arts (Honours) student
Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Event Management

Te Arawa, Ngai-te-rangi, Tainui, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga
The Bachelor of Arts (Honours) is a great bridge between undergraduate and postgraduate study, says Letitia Taikato.

“I would absolutely recommend the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) because it serves as a bridge that links undergraduate and postgraduate thinking in a manageable way. I chose this degree because I’m passionate about criminology, and I wanted to explore this topic further and in a broader context.”

For her honours dissertation, she hopes to focus on aspects of Māori in prison.

“I’m hoping to do a follow-up on Moana Jackson’s 1987 research, which has been the only large-scale research highlighting this issue to date. A primary conclusion of Jackson’s is the need to have a parallel justice system for Māori only and I would like to investigate this further.

“I chose this because it’s no secret that Māori account for over 50 percent of prisoners, and an even higher recidivism rate within this 50 percent. Because Māori are in prison, we need Māori approaches to resolve this problem, from a Māori framework because alternative strategies have so far failed us.”

Support and achievements
She initially decided to study at AUT because of its reputation for focusing on student success, Letitia says.

“I chose AUT based on the support there is for Māori academic achievement and embracing diversity. I appreciate the various support systems that are available, and the creative ways in which lecturers accommodate critical thinking.”

There have been many highlights, says Letitia who received a number of academic achievement awards including the Māori High Academic Achiever Award and the Dean Award for the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

“What I’ve enjoyed most are the relationships I built with other students and the lecturers. The nature of the interactive classes at AUT makes it easy to build relationships, and helps me to seek support if I need it and achieve to the best of my ability.”

A bright future
Expecting to complete her honours degree at the end of the year, Letitia already has some ideas what she would like to do next.

“I would be thrilled if I had the opportunity to teach, lecture or assist at university or in a prison, particularly working with Māori women. The icing on top would be if I found a role where I can incorporate my other passions, like performing arts or health and wellbeing.”

She has some great advice for other students.

“Learn from your mistakes, learn to cope with failure, always be curious and ask questions, and don’t procrastinate.”