Louis Inn Tze Ngā-Tai e Rua Wee

Group Sustainability Advisor, Tonkin + Taylor
Bachelor of Māori Development in Māori Media

He loved studying in a kaupapa Māori environment, says Louis Inn Tze Ngā-Tai e Rua Wee; known as Ngā-Tai to his AUT whānau. Born in Singapore, he moved to Auckland as a baby and has long been passionate about te reo Māori.

“I chose this degree because I wanted to study something that would allow me to be creative, use my te reo Māori, and learn more about te ao Māori and kaupapa Māori. I loved being in a kaupapa Māori environment where everyone was so proudly Māori; proud of their culture and language.

“This experience inspired me to strengthen my own reo and I took a gap year and studied abroad in Shanghai for half a year to learn Mandarin Chinese. It also allowed me time to start learning the other official language of Aotearoa; New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).”

Another highlight of his time at AUT were the creative projects he got to work on, says Ngā-Tai who received a Peter Harwood Scholarship to support his studies,

“My highlights were definitely the creative projects I got to create, including a queer, interracial short story that has been published on the Te Kaha Roa website and a short coming out film.”

Making a difference
After completing his studies, Ngā-Tai joined Ko Tāku Reo Deaf Education Centre New Zealand as a residential youth worker; applying kaupapa Māori to look after Deaf youth staying in residential accommodation and helping them with mahi kāinga.

Now working at Tonkin + Taylor as the group sustainability advisor, he is using his understanding of te ao Māori to support the company’s commitment to sustainability and mātauranga Māori.

"My mahi involves looking at how we embed sustainability into everything we do! Sustainability for us here at Tonkin + Taylor isn't just about the natural environment – sustainability encompasses so many different aspects and within our Sustainability Framework one of those areas is 'Indigenous Knowledge'.

“Being at AUT has enabled me to learn how to instil and practise kaupapa Māori in everything I do, which in turn has allowed me to feed into the company, incorporating tikanga into our practices such as helping people with their reo pronunciation so they feel confident to deliver karakia tīmatanga (opening karakia) in their meetings, facilitating mihi whakatau, as well as looking at other ways that we can further grow and develop mātauranga Māori within the company."

Advice for other students
Ngā-Tai, who graduated at the end of 2019, has some great advice for other students.

“My advice would be – do it; go to AUT! I’ve had a taste of other big universities but none can compare to AUT, especially if you’re part of Te Ara Poutama, the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Development. You’re so supported in your mahi and everyone just wants you to achieve and do well.”

There’s plenty of support available if you ever need it, he says.

“The whanaungatanga and support from the staff at Te Ara Poutama and AUT helped me get through those stressful uni periods.”