Being able to juggle life as a mum while completing a teaching degree was made easier for Mihi Waaka when she chose to study at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
The mum of three completed her Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching) in 2019 and has just began her third year of teaching at Hamilton’s Knighton Normal School.
“I always wanted to study teaching but I had to find a programme that would suit me as a mum. My cousin told me about the wānanga so I went in to talk to them and from then on I just knew I was going to be able to do it,” says Mihi who completed her degree at TWoA’s Mangakōtukutuku campus in Hamilton.
Having supportive kaiako (teachers) that understood the challenges of balancing life as a mum while studying fulltime was a key factor in Mihi’s success as a tauira (student).
Even after completing the three-year degree Mihi was still able to reach out to her kaiako for teaching advice and encouragement.
“Our kaiako were still there if we had any pātai (questions) and they were there to guide us. The communication was still open after you graduated and you weren’t just completely cut off once you finished your degree.”
Mihi continues to work towards her teaching goals but is still proud of how far she has come and believes the tools and resources she gained from the programme will help her continue to grow in her career.
Learning in a unique Māori environment with a strong sense of whanaungatanga (relationship) was a highlight for Mihi.
“There was a te ao Māori perspective on everything which was awesome. You could look and learn through a Māori lens and we would integrate a lot of te reo Māori which helped in our learning.”
Mihi says she loved every part of her time studying with TWoA and encouraged others with a dream to teach to step out and give it a go.
“Almost anyone can do the programme, being a mum doesn’t stop you from doing what you want for yourself.”