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Shona Kelsen

Shona Kelsen's family don't bat an eyelid when it comes to her bucket list because they know she likes a challenge.

Since retiring, the 73-year-old has gone from strength to strength -  gaining new skills with the support of her loved ones, including learning the Māori language.

"I'd achieved my Diploma in raranga Māori Art (weaving Raranga) but I felt there was something missing - I wanted to be able to speak the reo and link that together," she says.

"I knew it would be a challenge, but I think it’s vital to keep the language alive. It's a taonga." 

Shona was able to achieve her goal by enrolling into the Level 2 Certificate in Te Ara Reo Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

She first discovered the tertiary provider eight years ago after a long and fulfilling career as an obstetrics nurse.

"I was waiting at the doctor's one day and picked up a leaflet that said; 'Do you enjoy weaving?' Or words to that effect. Being retired, I was looking for something different and I like doing things with my hands so went along and enrolled. It was so exciting."

For someone who had never contemplated the art form previously, let alone seen a flax kete up close, there was no looking back for this mother of four who is also a grandmother of eight and great- grandmother of three.

"With my weaving, I'm always striving to improve. I think at my age the ability to retain information is my biggest challenge, but I'm a determined person and I'll achieve it no matter how long it takes."

Shona says ultimately what she'd like is a "feeling of being at one" with Te Reo Rangatira. What she's received so far however, is much more.

"I've learned the warmth and tikanga of the culture and I can appreciate applying it to everyday life amongst whāanau. They're never surprised at what I do," she says.

"I think it will fulfill me for the rest of my life. Everyday I’m excited and enthused about what I’m doing. I feel very much at peace." 


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Published On: 17 Jan, 2017

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