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EIT BA Māori graduate enjoyed studies so much, she is now teaching one of the programmes

May 25, 2024

Tamara Whenuaroa (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Tūwharetoa & Ngāi Tūhoe) is now teaching at EIT Tairāwhiti after completing her Bachelor of Arts (Māori).

Tamara Whenuaroa (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Tūwharetoa & Ngāi Tūhoe) enjoyed studying for her Bachelor of Arts (Māori) at EIT Tairāwhiti so much last year, that she has been back on campus this year teaching the certificate programme.

The Tairāwhiti graduation for last year’s students was held at the War Memorial Theatre in Gisborne in March. Although Tamara did not attend the ceremony, she has still graduated with the rest of her cohort.

Tamara, whose first language is te reo, had studied at EIT previously, obtaining a Bachelor of Visual Art and Design. She says she began her second degree in 2022 after being attracted to the programme at Te Whatukura on the Tairāwhiti campus.

“I had a couple of friends who studied at Te Whatukura with EIT and did the Māori degree there. And I really enjoyed the environment that they had there.”

“When they had their graduation ceremonies, I went along with them and met a few of the tutors and saw how they operate. That really inspired me to go there. I think one of the key aspects that I enjoyed, and that was a point of difference in the teachings, was that they taught the reo of this region, of this rohe.”

“In 2022, I did the diploma in te reo. Then I did a couple of extra papers through Massey University so that I was able to fast track my journey and have those cross-credited to be able to complete the degree last year.”

Tamara, 25, who went to school at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ara Hou in Napier, says she enjoyed learning the dialect of the region.

“I learned a lot on the grammatical side of our language. I learnt a lot about the histories and traditions of this region. I was brought up in Napier, so in Ngāti Kahungunu as opposed to the Tairāwhiti, Ngāti Porou region.”

“The Ngāti Porou language is very much its own, and I really wanted to come and learn about that here on this whenua, in this region, from the people who were brought up here because my mum is from this region. So it just made it that much more special to be able to do that.”

Tamara says that after she finished her degree, new opportunities opened up for her.

“After graduating I was approached to teach the level two te reo Māori course. They are night classes for adults. And it’s been such a cool journey to go from student, directly into teaching because being a learner, you learn all these skills and grasp an understanding of how you learn whether that’s visual or just by repetitive learning etc.”

“I always thought I’d be a teacher, but I never thought I’d be an adult teacher. I’ve been well-supported by EIT staff.”

It has been a long and winding journey for Tamara, who grew up with te reo as her first language, but never thought she could have a career in it.

“When I finished my degree in Napier, I moved to Tūranga to undergo an apprenticeship in tā moko, that’s why I actually moved to Gisborne.”

“And when I moved, I decided I may as well do the honours programme here at Toihoukura to really connect back to Toi Māori and te ao Māori. “

“I finished the honours and then worked at the Māori Land Court for a few years, whilst finishing my apprenticeship in tā moko. Shortly thereafter I underwent my reo studies. And now I’m doing the level two teaching part-time and lucky to have had a few other employment opportunities pop up, including mahi with rangatahi of Te Tairāwhiti, through Nōnā Te Ao Charitable Trust. And actually, all of my employment opportunities I acquired thanks to my reo.”

Pareputiputi Nuku, Pouarataki, Te Ūranga Waka and Te Whatukura, says: “Tamara is a talented and clearly focused, committed young wahine.

“We are very fortunate to have Tamara on our Te Whatukura and Te Ūranga Waka team as a kaiako for Te Pōkaitahi Reo (Level 2) with her skills and knowledge in te reo and toi Māori.”