Tiana Pewhairangi Trego-Hall

Tiana Pewhairangi Trego-Hall

Graduate Diploma in Health science student
Bachelor of Māori Development in Māori Media

Ngāti Whātua ki Kaipara, Te Rarawa, Tainui, Cook Island Māori

Not many university students can say they’re working with a film production company to create their very own documentary. For her Māori media degree, Tiana Pewhairangi Trego-Hall was doing just that.

“For one of my Bachelor of Māori Development in Māori Media courses I was tasked with conducting an audio interview about the concept of whānau. This enabled me to return home to the Hokianga and interview whānau, hapū and iwi about their stories surrounding the toheroa; a large but increasingly elusive shellfish.

“On completion of the assignment, I was approached to write a publication for Ata: Journal of Psychotherapy Aotearoa New Zealand. With the support of my peers and lecturers, I was also encouraged to pitch my idea to a Māori film production company. They accepted my proposal and I created my own documentary; ‘The Politics of Toheroa Soup’, which follows tangata whenua, hapū and iwi who are on a journey to revitalise and rebuild toheroa populations.”

Her film recently screened at the Māoriland Film Festival and has also  been submitted for entry to various domestic and international film festivals.

Tiana is now continuing her studies and is enrolled in a Graduate Diploma in Health Science, hoping to combine the Māori development aspects of her first degree with health science to create better health outcomes for Māori. She is also the current kahukura wahine for Titahi Ki Tua, AUT’s Māori student association.

The right choice
Having always dreamt of helping people, Tiana initially enrolled in a law degree, with some elective courses in Māori media. This decision would prove to be life-changing.

“When I started university, I was naively thinking that law was the only career that would enable me to help my people. When I discovered that studying Māori media would let me showcase Māori stories globally, I naturally gravitated to the Bachelor of Māori Development in Māori Media. I had always been interested in media and watching indigenous stories on screen, and I believe we need more Māori and indigenous voices in the media industry.”

For Tiana, studying in such a supportive university environment has been one of the highlights of her time at AUT.

“When I was deciding where to study, I paid close attention to each university’s commitment to the success of its Māori and Pacific students. Choosing AUT was easy for me. I found that AUT best aligned with my values, and being a top-ranking university was the cherry on top.

“Studying at AUT has enabled me to connect with so many other tauira Māori from around Aotearoa New Zealand. Being in a kaupapa Māori environment and having the Māori Liaison Services and whānau room available has enabled me to excel in my studies. I don’t think people truly realise how important having that support system is when you’re studying, it just makes university life so much easier.”

Advice for other students
Tiana’s advice for other students is simple: use the support around you.

“AUT offers so much support – from peer mentors for academic support to the Foodie Godmother service where students can go and access household items and food whenever they need a helping hand. All you need to do is ask. Remember everyone at AUT wants you to succeed.”

Like many Māori students, she often turns to the friendly staff at AUT’s Office of Māori Advancement for tautoko.

“AUT’s Office of Māori Advancement and Titahi ki Tua Māori Student Association have been two of the major support systems for me. Not only have they provided financial and academic support, but they also offer a safe space to be yourself. I know that there can be some stigma for Māori who may not feel ‘worthy’ or ‘Māori’ enough’ to access these resources but the whānau here at AUT really make it a home away from home type of environment. There’s no need to be shy.”

*The Māori Media major is now offered as part of the Bachelor of Arts.

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