Member Success Intern/Kaitohutohu Pōtiki (Junior Cultural Support), Diversity Works New Zealand
Bachelor of Arts in Māori Development
She wanted to develop the skills to better support her people, says Maia Hemara-Tylden who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Māori Development with a minor in Education.
“I did this degree because I wanted to learn new skills to be able to help my people, learn more about my culture and be able to use my biggest strengths as Māori in my personal and professional life. The atmosphere at AUT felt welcoming and colourful, and from the first day the staff and students were so supportive. AUT was the only tertiary education provider I had come across that also offered Māori media, and it seemed more hands-on in terms of learning.”
The diversity at AUT was eye-opening for Maia.
“Coming from a small town and a small school in the Hawke’s Bay, and then moving and studying in the Auckland CBD was so interesting and learning to navigate this new space was a journey. I made some great friends while I was at AUT. We all came from similar backgrounds and were all in this to do better for ourselves and our whānau. Engaging with people from different parts of New Zealand and the world was great.
“My biggest highlight was Tītahi ki Tua (TKT), AUT’s Māori student association. I spent a lot of my time at the marae, getting stuck into different kaupapa that TKT were holding. During lockdowns I was still constantly engaging with TKT online and in-person when we had the chance to.”
Making an impact
Now working at Diversity Works New Zealand, Maia enjoys being able to make a positive difference to the community.
“My job involves engagement with our member organisations, background support in our online workshops, and organising dates and times for workshops. I’ve recently also started helping out our CEO with some of her mahi, and am helping the organisation internally with our te ao Māori journey.
“Even though we’re the national body for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, our team is very small but we manage to do impactful and meaningful work that benefits so many people. I love exploring new concepts and topics, and learning the ins and outs of work life with people that are so genuine.”
She is proud of how far she has already come.
“This is my first role out of uni and my first ever job that didn’t involve farm work. Learning to navigate something so new and with people who are supportive and patient with me every step of the way is my biggest highlight so far.”
Advice for other students
Maia, who graduated from AUT at the end of 2021, has some great advice for other students who are only at the start of their university journey.
“My advice is to get stuck into the different clubs around campus, and don’t be shy to make friends.”
Her other piece of advice is simple: ask for help if you need it.
“Always look at the options available to you and seek help when you need it. AUT is great place!”