A dyslexic solo-dad with mild autism and ADHD, battling homelessness and overcoming a drinking problem credits Te Wānanga o Aotearoa with helping him find himself and turn his life around.
Dave Kane has recently completed the Level 4 Manaaki Tāngata Certificate in Bicultural Social Services course and says it’s been a “life-changing” experience.
“The course introduced me to myself,” he says.
“ADHD manifests itself in lots of different ways and people with ADHD are often told they’re not intelligent or they’re lazy. That all takes a toll after a while and you end up with this imposter syndrome, but I didn’t feel that at all at the wānanga.
“I was in an environment where I could share my stresses around these issues and my classmates provided me with their awhi and manaakitanga to help me through that process. I haven’t been in a learning environment like that before and I was surprised at what I could do.”
Simple things such as taking breaks when he needed or being able to wear noise-cancelling headphones helped immensely, he says.
“The class was a lovely mix of people and it was a very relaxed and open environment. They made sure I was in the optimal space to learn.”
It was very different to his experience in other tertiary organisations.
“In mainstream, I never finished anything. I’d start but get bored and look for something new. At the wānanga there was always something new to consider. It ignited my mind as I looked for understanding. I just wasn’t prepared to be so engrossed in the course.”
Dave had previously ran a record company and worked in marketing, and says he had a successful career until a few years ago when his drinking “became a catalyst for everything falling apart”.
“Getting on top of that and being part of this programme and the fellowship we had was really helpful. I didn’t really know a whole lot about the course when I started but the more I got into it, I realised it was right on.”
Although he is Pākehā and originally from the deep south, Dave says he always felt welcome at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
“I’m a 52-year-old white guy from Southland and I never felt out of place, I never felt that being Pākehā was a disadvantage on the course. Dad was the Chaplain at Wesley College so we were immersed in Polynesian culture and events at marae and pōwhiri so I had an understanding and appreciation of it. I watched my parents look after others and a lot of what they were doing I’ve now learned about with a Māori framework. They were very similar.”
Dave says he is a much better person after completing the course and his new skills help in his everyday life.
“It’s been life-changing and I put a lot of what I learned into practice. Even now I’m going over my notes and going through some of the teachings,” he says.
“And now I’ve been finding that having this qualification from the wānanga is really sought after and can be a real asset. I tell people I went to the wānanga to get a qualification when in actual fact, it was therapy. I went for therapy and got a qualification.”