Ko Hikurangi te Maunga, ko Waiapu te Awa, Ko Ngāti Porou te Iwi. Ko Turitaka ki Tikitiki taku kāinga tuarua. (Hikurangi the mountain, Waiapu the river, Ngāti Porou the people. Turitaka in Tikitiki is my second home.)
These are the Māori words that come from Tongan born and raised Viliami Haupeakui.
The honours student and fluent te reo Mäori speaker graduated from his Bachelor of Arts (Māori) in 2013 and is currently completing his honours degree.
The father of four is going even further, and in 2014 will start his Bachelor of Teaching. Viliami has been in Gisborne for 17 years,
working in orchards and picking fruit for a living.
But a passion for learning everything to do with indigenous cultures and a drive to help not just his own children but others as well has seen him take himself out of the fields and into the classroom.
“I want to better myself in my children’s culture with tikanga that will benefit them and the children I hope to teach in the future,” says Viliami.
He has had plenty of involvement in all the schools his children attend, and particularly at Te Kura o Kaiti.
“My dream is to be a primary teacher in te reo Mäori,” he says. “We are committed to the importance of whanaungatanga, language and culture and the values they hold for us.”
Viliami’s efforts have seen him appear on Tautohetohe (On the Road) on Mäori TV.
With his first two languages as Tongan and Mäori, Viliami continues to work on improving his English and completed an adult literacy and numeracy class.
There are plenty of people who have helped him along his tertiary education journey, in particular EIT lecturers Marei Norris, Materoa Haenga and Maria Moeke Wynard who tutored him at Te Whatukura for the past five years, Kaiti School principal Billie Jean Potaka Ayton and whanau ora programme navigator Karauria Ruru, and the ministers of the Tongan churches.
“But most of all, I thank Elizabeth, the mother of our children, who has been there 24/7 so I could study and go to classes freely,” says Viliami. “Nga mihi nui kia koe e te wahine Purotu.”