Simi Paris is a perfect example of a kaiako whose tauira learn with aroha.
She teaches the Level 4 Kāwai Raupapa and Level 5 Toi Paematua - Raranga programme concurrently and previously the Level 6 Maunga Kura Toi - Raranga programme at the Raroera campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and says seeing her tauira succeed – whatever that may look like – is what makes her role so satisfying.
“Tauira success has many faces. Whether it’s a pathway to more education, a pathway to their marae, their whānau, hapū, iwi or just to themselves,” she says.
“I think all our tauira are successful, just for taking the initiative to enrol, for completing however many years - one year, two years or four - we need to celebrate that initiative always.”
Simi says celebrating success is important because all tauira come from diverse backgrounds and have individual aims.
“Our tauira come to us with different knowledge, different histories, they walk a different path to their peers. So it’s about learning about that tauira and how we can help them. I think our responsibility is to identify that and work with them.”
Simi says different tauira need different types of support and she has had “some special tauira” over the seven years she has been teaching. One of them was (Teresa)Tresa Simpkins.
“Tresa came to me as a Level 5 tauira and she’s just finished her Level 7, which is fabulous,” she says.
“She came to me wanting to make putiputi. Putiputi are great but I thought this girl has some really great skills, so I encouraged her to use her rauangi skills alongside her raranga skills and to really start talking kaupapa. What I saw in her at Level 5 year was her growth and the warmth in her work. I was really pleased when she decided she would do two more years, and she's come such a long way.”
Simi says Tresa didn’t have a lot of confidence when she first started studying.
“She didn't know her worth, which is quite common when you're not acknowledged. Her confidence now has grown and grown and I'm very proud of what she's done. She's been open to new suggestions and she’s made and created some beautiful pieces of work,” Simi says.
“She's made beautiful kākahu for her son and herself - because that's the important thing in her life - and from there she can just grow and nurture her community, her whānau and her hapū.”
Simi says she’s encouraged Tresa to undertake further study.
“Tresa 's great with children, so I think we've encouraged her to do some education training, perhaps a Bachelor in Early Childcare. When the confidence comes and she matures a little bit more I think she'll have a great career in teaching the arts because that's her passion.”
“She’s young, she's turned her life around, she's a success and the world’s her oyster.”
Simi takes little credit for the success of her tauira and says the work they do is hugely satisfying to see.
“The best part of my job is seeing the work that's created. I'm just here to inspire them and to push them. I love my job, I love the people, I love being able to share what I know and I love when tauira teach me. We're always learning and we're so lucky.”
Simi is the latest addition to the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa brand campaign, which can be seen on the learnwitharoha.ac.nz website. The website features examples where the aroha shown by our kaiako has made a significant difference to their tauira.