TEU member Dr Haturini McGarvey (Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Rangi) is a senior lecturer at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. Here, Haturini discusses supporting Wānanga tauira Māori in realising their potential and aspirations in the unique Wānanga Māori environment.

To celebrate te hautapu o Matariki, the Māori new year I will invoke the following whakataukī, “E kapo ki ngā whetū”, (Reach for the stars). This whakataukī is a text taken from ancient mōteatea, belonging to my iwi Ngāi Tūhoe.

E kapo ki ngā whetū is the whakataukī uttered to encourage and inspire the tauira, our tauira, at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in Whakatāne. It is part of the celebration of Matariki, Te Mātahi o te Tau, the new year.

E kapo ki ngā whetū, to reach for the stars, is to realise one’s potential, the infinite possibilities of unlocking that potential within the context and within the milieu of the Whare Wānanga Māori. I say this to our tauira of Te Ōhanga Mataora, the Bachelor of Health Sciences Māori Nursing. E kapo ki ngā whetū, is our catch cry, used to inspire, uplift, and implore our tauira to reach for excellence in their studies, and in the pathway that they have chosen regarding higher education.

E kapo ki ngā whetū re-affirms and reminds our tauira of ‘why’ they are here on this journey to attain mātauranga Wānanga Māori (higher education). It’s important for Māori, as tangata whenua, to remind ourselves of ‘why we are here’. In terms of the pursuit of Mātauranga Māori, educating ourselves within Whare Wānanga, marae, Wharekura, Kura, and Kōhanga Reo, we must remind ourselves to always ‘reach for the stars’, and to always pursue the greatest depths and broadest horizons of knowledge.

As a kaiako Māori, as an educator, as tauira, within the Whare Wānanga Māori sector, it is important for us to know where we have come from, to realise our potential in the present, to help lead us into the future.

E kapo ki ngā whetū is about unlocking the hidden potential of our tauira, within the philosophy, the ethos, the environment of Whare Wānanga where it is normal, and normal practice, and part of our way of life as Māori. Where it is the normal to speak our language, te reo rangatira; to practice our tikanga, kawa; to tell our stories, to remind ourselves and to be proud of who we are, of our whakapapa, our origin stories, the landmarks, our ancestors, and ancestral connections.

Why are we here? What is the purpose? These are questions imperative to tauira. What brought them here to the Whare Wānanga? It might be that most of our tauira have not had a positive experience within mainstream schooling or tertiary education. Many are second chance learners, the majority are Māori. Within the Whare Wānanga environment we operate under a unique stimulus, based on Kaupapa Māori, āhuatanga Māori, tikanga Māori, Mātauranga Māori, and te reo Māori. This stimulus and unique character underpin the very foundations of Wānanga Māori.

As a Pou Mataora, an educator, it is about putting people first. When I address and teach my tauira, I am not only addressing them as an individual, but as an individual within the collective identity and context of whānau, of hapū, iwi and community.

In a sense we are ‘re-educating’ our people – both Māori and Tauiwi – in the history and the stories of tangata whenua of Aotearoa that pertains to the ancient and the contemporary, kōrero tuku iho, the traditions of the ancestors, te reo Māori. It’s about educating our people in order to create a positive impact not only for the individual, but also their whānau, hapū and community. This is a unique point of difference not only for Awanuiārangi, but all Whare Wānanga Māori. This is the clear point of difference we must continue to champion in our journey towards further educational success and scholarly excellence for tauira Māori. E kapo ki ngā whetū. Tau ana!