Aotearoa Scholarship Trust - Rewi Panapa Memorial Award recipient Te Huia Wikaire
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa tauira Te Huia Wikaire is legally blind and suffers from Multiple Scleorisis but refuses to let these hardships slow her down.
Te Huia (45), who is of Te Whānau ā Apanui and Ngāpuhi descent,
is in the third and final year of her Te Tohu Paetahi Ngā Poutoko Whakarara Oranga - Bachelor of Social Work (Biculturalism in Practice) studies.
Her grit and determination to pursue higher learning despite her poor health was acknowledged by the wānanga in July when she received the $5000 Rewi Panapa Memorial Award from the Aotearoa Scholarship Trust.
Te Huia was “overwhelmed” to be selected for the award.
“Receiving the award at the scholarship ceremony was an amazing experience and a moment in time I will always cherish.”
Her advice to those facing difficulty in life is “never give up”.
“Kia kaha . . . there is always hope and light at the end of even the darkest tunnel.”
Te Huia, who studies at Mangakōtukutuku, Hamilton, was registered as being legally blind in 1993.
She has 0.6 vision in one eye and zero vision in the other.
Her visual impairment occurred after she gave birth via caesarean section and the placenta left in her uterus grew into an abscess the size of a large orange.
She lost her eyesight shortly after the abscess was surgically removed.
Te Huia says her multiple sclerosis which she has had for five years, may one day lead to her being fully paralysed, but for now she is mobile with assistance from a stroller.
“I can’t dwell on the negative ‘what ifs’. I am thankful for what I do have. A beautiful home with a ramp, my son Robert and two beautiful mokopuna who are two and four months old.”
Te Huia paid tribute to the wānanga for providing her with the opportunity to pursue a tertiary education and for being the catalyst to rediscovering her “roots and inner tikanga”.
Her ultimate goal is to work as a social worker and provide advocacy for people who are differently abled especially in the health sector.
“Social work has always been my passion. I have experienced first hand feeling desolate and isolated because I could not access any support for my health issues.”
Rewi Panapa was one of the founders of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and served as the wānanga council chairman from its establishment until 1997.
In 1998, he resigned as chairperson and remained a member of council while undertaking the role of Campus Director at Maniapoto campus in Te Kuiti.
Rewi remained totally committed to the wānanga until his sudden passing in July 2005.
He was a highly respected and qualified health professional and practitioner with a strong passion for Māori success.
His memorial scholarship recognises his passion and commitment to the well-being of Māori.