Mr Sunshine, aka Turi Ngatai is leaving the building and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
The man with the ability to brighten the darkest meeting rooms with his infectious energy and vast repertoire of songs is calling time on a TWoA career that started when he was a campus manager in Rotorua in 1999.
Turi is to return home to Tauranga where he will be closer to his whānau, his marae and his community.
“I haven’t participated in the community of Tauranga since I left for Hato Petera when I was 12 years old.”
“I went straight to tertiary education after that and then straight to the workforce. So for the first time in my life I will be able to go home and stay home and participate in my community and you know what? I’m absolutely really looking forward to it.”
Turi, the relationship manager for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and one time interim co-chief executive is one of a select few who have had the privilege of working under all of our organisation’s chief executives.
“There aren’t that many people who have had that privilege.”
“I was there during the time of the godfather, Rongo Wetere and there for the moving forward under the leadership of Bentham Ohia.”
“And I’m here now to witness the forward thinking ability to meet the future needs of today’s changing environment under Jim Mather.”
“Each of these men have brought huge talents and abilities to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and have contributed greatly in terms of where the wānanga was and where it is now.”
“Jim is starting on his mission and I believe the wānanga is going from strength to strength to where it’s going to be a permanent part of the landscape.”
Turi says the highlights of his time with the wānanga are too numerous.
“There are too many highlights, it’s unbelievable, some really funny things but a few sad times too. But without a doubt the absolute real highlight for me was meeting the awesome people who work within Te Wānanga o Aotearoa,” he said.
“There are just so many fantastic people here, some of these people have truly amazed me over the years. For me the wānanga has always been about by Māori for Māori but even more so about the people.”
After a long association with education spanning more than 40 years, the former principal who left Sunset High School in Rotorua to join the wānanga because he felt he had achieved everything he could in mainstream education will say goodbye on March 24.
“But the truth is I’ll never leave this place,” he said.
“The wānanga is in my blood and my wairua. I will never leave this place because it has been such a major part of my life.”