Hemi Ruka expects it to take years before he fully understands what he learned about tikanga Māori last year.
Hemi completed the Level 3 Te Whāinga o te Ao Tikanga programme at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Whangārei and says like previous tikanga studies he’s undertaken, it will probably take a while to comprehend everything he learned.
“It’s hard to contextualise something like that because it’s such a vast journey. When I think about all the different ways I’ve learned those things, I can’t really find any parameters to measure it against, it’s like trying to learn about everything,” he says.
“Every day when I’m having conversations with people I have to really process what I’ve learned and try to assess the impact of that knowledge.”
He says the programme helped him focus on what matters in life.
“I think it’s probably revitalised me to keep considering my journey in te Ao Māori, and I think that can wax and wane during the week when you’ve got a day job. But being on the course definitely makes me think about how I make my life more Māori.”
“Some of the strategies were pretty out of the box for me but it just really opened me up to thinking about things in a way I hadn’t really thought about before.”
Hemi – who has completed te reo, mau rākau, adult education and tikanga programmes with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa – says the range of courses available to him have “been a godsend”.
“I’m in my 40s and I didn’t pick up a lot of those skills in school, so it’s been a real blessing.”
For him, the highlight of the course was the bond he formed with his fellow tauira.
“The whanaungatanga was really powerful and I know the personal growth for everyone else was very large, because we were pretty connected as a group.”
And he sees the tikanga programme as being an integral part of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
“I don’t really see that tikanga courses as being separate to the other Māori courses I’ve done with the wānanga.”
“I think I was really seeking the knowledge, so I got what I went there for.”