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Valedictorian says studying Māori Visual Arts at EIT Te Pūkenga has been a beautiful journey

August 4, 2023

Bridy Rihari-Lundon (Ngāpuhi, Waikato Tainui is this year’s Valedictorian for the Tairāwhiti Campus of EIT Te Pūkenga.

Bridy Rihari-Lundon (Ngāpuhi, Waikato Tainui), who is this year’s Valedictorian for the Tairāwhiti Campus of EIT|Te Pūkenga, says that studying Māori Visual Arts at has been a beautiful journey.

Bridy, who is currently doing her Masters of Māori Visual Arts at Toihoukura, , is graduating today (Friday 4 August) with her Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts degree. The Tairāwhiti Graduation Ceremony will be held at the War Memorial Theatre.

Bridy says that at first she did not realise the significance of being named as Valedictorian, but she now is pleased that she is.

“So now that I understand, I am actually quite honoured to stand to speak and to represent not only just EIT and Toihoukura, but my friends and the whole campus.”

Brady says she has recently completed her Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts and is now on her Masters. She is doing this long distance from Waikato, where she is working fulltime at the kura Tōku Māpihi Maurea.

She has loved her time at EIT|Te Pūkenga and has grown as an artist.

“I’d say it’s been the most beautiful journey and probably one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I’m so glad that I went there. I wasn’t sure that was the right place for me, but after a year I knew that I was meant to be there, so it really helped me a lot.

This year’s EIT Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti
Valedictorian Bridy Rihari-Lundon with some of her work.

“One thing that taught me about myself, I think despite the long distance, living away from home, I had to find the beauty in this town, in Gisborne, and one was connecting to the land and sea, and second was allowing myself to open up and feel the warmth of the people.”

“I’m a painter, so I mostly just paint. I do draw sometimes, but this year I’m trying to actually interpret and incorporate a couple of other elements. I’m trying to spread out and dive into other mediums and become a quite diverse, multi-medium artist.”

“I’m looking at going into a bit of bone and stone carving in the future and doing ta moko.”

Last year Bridy received the Ruanuku Award, which is awarded each year to the top all round student at Toihoukura. The Ruanuku is a final year undergraduate art student who performs at a high level across a range of requirements. As part of award, two pieces of Bridy’s work have been selected by the Tairāwhiti Museum and purchased, through the support of Professor Jack Richards, for the Tairāwhiti Museum permanent Māori arts collection.

Bridy is enjoying her life as a teacher. The aim is to eventually study for her teaching degree.

“I suppose because my purpose for now and probably for my future is to give back, and that’s what I’m trying to do. So it really makes me happy knowing that I can share my skills and my knowledge and pass it down so it carries on the art form and the teachings.”

For now Bridy is preparing for the Graduation Ceremony which will be held on Friday (5 August) at the War Memorial Theatre in Gisborne.

“I’m acknowledging the people, the campus, EIT, and Toihoukura, the staff and managers, administrators, all of that. And then I’m doing a little bit of reflection on my three years at Toihoukura, what it was like for me. I will highlight a lot of the opportunities that were offered to us and a few words of wisdom and congratulating my friends, of course, my peers.”

Tracey Tangihaere, the Executive Director of the Tairāwhiti Campus of EIT|Te Pūkenga and Acting Head of Toihoukura, says: “Bridy is a great role model for young Māori Wahine, she exemplifies the value of Matauranga Māori and Toi Māori.”

“Toihoukura tutors are very proud of all their graduates today and comment that  Bridy has been a great ambassador across the country and in Canada creative sectors, I am sure she will be successful in her chosen career. We expect to her as a rising star in the Toi Māori skyline.”