Paretapu-Teira Penetito Waru was in a classroom when it dawned upon her she had nearly forgotten what her high school dream actually was.
The 23-year-old is in her final stages of a Diploma in Māori Art (Rauangi) and is looking forward to continuing on to the degree to graduate in 2018.
She says after spending a few years searching for the right way to channel the mātauranga Māori she gained through tertiary study in Ōtaki, she had overlooked the first love she "sort of" left behind as a tauira at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi.
"I tried teaching; kohanga reo, kura tuatahi and adults but my (mātauranga Māori) degree wasn't being executed the way I wanted it to. Then I remembered at high school how I always wanted to be an artist."
The decision made around this future path, lead her to Porirua Campus thanks to kaiako Sian Montgomery-Neutze, whom she had met during her time at Te Wānanga o Raukawa.
"I wanted to indulge in something that I had had a passion for. I'd gotten to a point where I wanted to move out of Auckland; to relocate and find myself in a different light."
Today, she hopes to become a successful Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri me Ngāti Haua artist with her own look.
"Just for me, knowing my creative process, I'm still learning all of that. I continue to surprise myself, it's cool. We're encouraged to keep working on things and constantly create and bounce ideas."
Paretapu says to be able to express the pūrakau and kōrero she's learned and gathered over the years and now create imagery for them, helps manifest her dream of selling work worldwide from a coastal studio.
"I've learnt so much and I've grown heaps, looking at my artwork. The kaiako here are awesome. They have passion and they want to give as much as they can possibly give for the tauira. They don't hold anything back."
Paretapu also has a lot to give and is currently learning how to deal with situations where you have all sorts of different projects on at the same time. She's not complaining though, just learning how to decide from all the ideas she's got going on what might not be necessary.
"It's about weeding out the stuff I might get caught up in that's not that big of a deal and just highlighting more of the important," she says.
"I love that I can express both mātauranga Māori and art and design, it's been absolutely worthwhile. It's been the best decision I made since high school."
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