A desire to have her son grown up surrounded by his own language saw Melanie Tahata head home to Tairawhiti.
Seven-year-old Tawhai is now fluent in Maori, and mum has graduated with her own Bachelor of Arts in Te Reo Maori.
“When I started my son at kohanga I realised if I didn’t do something too, I was going to be left behind.”
So she did a national certificate in te reo, which led to her bachelorhood.
“I enjoyed learning about the language and the history – especially the local history,” says 39-year-old Melanie, who also has a Bachelor of Fine Arts to her credit.
It’s been a juggle for this solo mum, who was running her own creative business while doing her degree.
Now that her study is finished – for now – she wants to continue to grow her own business, but is also looking for a “day job”.
But she has no regrets.
Her family are here and she loves that Tawhai is growing up surrounded by whanau.