Kaiako/Teacher, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Whangārei
Master of Arts in Māori Development
Bachelor of Māori Development in Māori Media
When Parekura Pewhairangi first moved to Auckland from the Hawke’s Bay to start university, he thought his future would be in the media. But life had different plans.
“After finishing high school, I was interested in pursuing a career in the media industry, either in journalism or news reporting. AUT stood out as a possible university for me to attend, and I decided to enrol in the Bachelor of Māori Development in Māori Media. The degree made a tremendous impact on my life and I’ve been able to apply some of the learning into my work as a lecturer, although I never ended up pursuing a career in media.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree in 2017, he decided to stay at AUT and continue his studies with a Master of Arts in Māori Development. His master’s degree research was supervised by Hēmi Kelly and Professor Hinematau McNeil from Te Ara Poutama, the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Development.
“I chose this degree to further my knowledge of te ao Māori, in particular te reo and tikanga Māori. My research looked at traditional whakataukī (proverbs) as a way for rangatahi Māori to learn and understand more about the world of their ancestors, while also enhancing their connection to te ao Māori and their identity.
“To further reinforce the connection between whakataukī and our worldview and identity, each whakataukī was paired with a poupou (carved pillar) from the AUT wharenui, Te Pūrengi. This research offers rangatahi the opportunity to evaluate and reassess what our contribution to the never-ending pool of mātauranga (knowledge) is, and what words of wisdom we might pass on to future generations to ensure they too can connect to a Māori worldview and to their identity as Māori.”
The right university environment
The people are what he enjoyed the most about his time at university, Parekura says.
“When I think of my most enjoyable moments of study at AUT, I think of the people I met along the way; whether that was as a student, a teacher or a staff member. Every person I came in contact with contributed to my journey, and being in their presence inspired me to do my best and not give up.”
He wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Māori and indigenous development programmes to other students.
“The support systems in place for Māori at AUT are second-to-none, and the lecturers at Te Ara Poutama are world-class, genuine and driven by a passion to help their students succeed.”
A passion for te reo Māori
After completing his Master of Arts in mid-2021, Parekura is now living in Whangārei where he gets to share his love of te ao Māori with his students at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
“I’ve always considered myself privileged to have learnt te reo Māori, especially when I remember what others have done to allow me that opportunity.
“As a te reo Māori teacher, I feel honoured every day to be able to offer others the opportunity to learn as well.”