Te Awanui A Rangi Teresa Clark

Te Awanui A Rangi Teresa Clark

1st-year student, Bachelor of Design Te Tohu Paetahi mō te Hoahoa in Animation, Visual Effects and Game Design with minors in Māori Media & Cinematic Arts


When she was growing up, animation was her biggest form of comfort, says Te Awanui A Rangi Teresa Clark who is now studying animation, visual effects and game design.

“Animation like Steven Universe, the Studio Ghibli movies or Adventure Time helped me in my darkest moments, so ever since primary school I knew that I wanted to go into animation. I wanted to be able to create something for other kids like me that they could love and find escapism in.

“As I grew up, my motive changed with me as well. When I was about 10, the movie Moana came out. That was my favourite movie at the time, but it also made me realise how little good Māori representation, let alone pan-Pacific representation, there is, even though our culture has inspired so much in Western storytelling. I wanted to study design to create animation for Māori kids like me, especially for my whānau back in Kaikohe. Everything I make is a love letter to them and to all Māori.”

Life at AUT
What she loves most about studying animation is the hands-on work and the encouraging environment, Te Awanui A Rangi says.

“I came to AUT because it’s one of the very few universities that provides courses for 2D animation and it’s the closest uni to my whānau in Northland. It might just be because animation students are shy, but everyone has always been very kind. I’m also very much a kinaesthetic learner, so learning by doing the mahi and experimenting with different forms of physical mediums has made learning for me a breeze this semester.

“I do miss my family, and the biggest challenge for me has been feeling homesick and not being as close to nature as I’d like to be. My boyfriend and his family have become like a second family for me, which is helping me combat homesickness. I also like the laid-back environment at AUT, and the encouragement to be active in your communities and yourself. There are lots of workshops in the WQ building on campus, and so much fun and recreational stuff you can book out.”

While she is still in the early stages of her studies, she has already been asked to create some artworks to help the AUT community celebrate Matariki.

“The AUT Pou Māori team commissioned me to create colouring-in sheets for Matariki this year. I feel like that is something that will help jumpstart my career, and help get my work out there. I’m also proud of keeping up pretty good grades, and being able to tell my whānau that I’m doing my best.”

Advice for other students
Te Awanui A Rangi has some great advice for other students.

“Find your people and explore for your people. I've always found the kindest people you’ll find are the ones you’d least expect. Make sure you surround yourself with people who make you laugh, make you feel loved, welcomed and don't diminish your spark.

“Try to understand before you judge. While I’m not perfect, I always try to understand before I judge people. This hasn’t only helped me be kinder, but it's taught me how to keep cool and calm when things get rough, find solutions, learn, communicate better and give myself some grace as well. Try listening and learning about people personally a bit more and see where that takes you. Nā te iho te kōrero, na te whakaaro nui ko te mūmū.”

Be the one to step up, she adds.

“This is something I find comes naturally for uni students, especially when they’re in their element in a subject they enjoy, but don't just try to step up in your studies; step up always. Step up for yourself, step up for others and step up for your whānau. You can't be a great leader or innovator unless you make that effort whenever the opportunity arises. Be that person to hold the door, help that old lady cross the street and know your worth. Being proactive makes you saucy as. And of course; always be good to your māmā.”

More about Te Awanui A Rangi and her work