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Journey of self-discovery leads to graduation for EIT Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti student

March 4, 2024

EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti student Leslie Tuhou is looking forward to graduating with a Bachelor of Computing Systems on Friday.

A journey of self-discovery will culminate in EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti student Leslie Tuhou (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa) graduating with a Bachelor of Computing Systems this week.

Leslie is set to graduate at the Tairāwhiti Campus graduation ceremony at the War Memorial Theatre in Gisborne on Friday, 8 March.

Leslie’s study started while she was at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Ngā Uri a Māui, where she became one of the first students from the kura to do Trades Academy. It also turned out to be the first year Computing was offered in Trades Academy at EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti.

By the time Leslie finished kura she had completed foundation and intermediate computing, putting her on a path to study further at EIT | Te Pūkenga.

“I thought about it and enrolled in Level 4, but then I received a call saying I had done well getting my NZ Certificate in Computing Intermediate User L3 and that I could move up to the degree if I wanted”.

 “I chose computing specially to separate me from the family, but in a good way, because I grew up in a sports family. I wanted to break out and do something different, I wanted to be a wahine Māori in IT, especially coming from Kura Kaupapa”.

“I enjoyed meeting new people at EIT, from all walks of life, which was something new for me. The events like ‘Clash of the Courses’ and ‘Lip Sync’ competitions were all good fun while you are getting to know the environment and interacting with people socially. And some free lunches too”.

Many courses in the computing degree captured Leslie’s interest, “especially digital forensics, databases, web, programming and subjects about data”.

She was busy in her final semester working on a group project for Tāiki E while also taking an IT research course. The project involved using IoT technologies to transform 12 pātaka kai placed out in the Gisborne community to measure the weight of fruit and vegetables, and monitor levels in real time.

With time ticking for both the Tāiki E project and her research assignment Leslie decided to write her assignment in Te Reo Māori.

“The reason I wrote the research report in Māori was because I was recuperating from illness, and everything was due. It was so much quicker and easier for me to write. I was nearly there and needed to get my assignment in on time”.

As for the research, Leslie had chosen Māori Data Sovereignty as her IT topic, highlighting key differences between indigenous data sovereignty and mainstream data sovereignty.

“Tēnei te tuku mihi ki tāku whānau, wāku hoa, wāku kaiako, me te hunga katoa i awhina ahau i tēnei haerenga. Ahakoa ngā aupiki me ngā auheke, kua ea. Mei kore ko koutou, kua kore ake ko au. Nei rā te mihi maioha atu ki a koutou katoa.”

As for the future, Leslie would like to work in an area that incorporates Māori-medium with Information Technology.

Tina Blumenthal, Senior IT Lecturer at EIT |Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti says: “Leslie has done exceptionally well to come from kura kaupapa and embrace the computing degree. She’s a great team player, has worked through the study challenges, and it is because of her tenacity, her openness to fill her kete with learning, and determination to become the best she can, that she is graduating.”

“As one of the lecturers, I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to watch Leslie’s confidence grow and help her navigate her way towards achieving her goals”.

Tracey Tangihaere, Executive Director of the EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti Campus, said: “Our role at EIT Tairāwhiti is to support Māori learners in their chosen fields of study.”

“Our Kura Kaupapa graduates show commitment and drive to find select career choices that will help their community as well as advance their passions. Leslie demonstrated tenacity and resilience coming into a new non- Māori speaking environment , we wish Leslie all the best for her next journey.”