Mum of five, Ramari Kaka had always put off her dream of becoming a teacher to look after her whānau and raise her young children.
But after discovering Te Wānanga o Aotearoa’s (TWoA) Bachelor of Education degree, she was confident she would be able to do both.
“I’ve always wanted to get into teaching but what got me hooked on going to TWoA was seeing my older sister do it. She was able to be a mum and still study. She could prioritise both her whānau and her study,” says Ramari (Ngāti Toarangatira, Ngāti Koata and Tainui).
Ramari completed the He Korowai Ākonga - Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching) at TWoA’s Mangakōtukutuku, Hamilton campus with the support and guidance of her many hands on kaiako (teachers).
Juggling whānau life while keeping up with study still had its challenges for Ramari but it was all worth it in the end.
“At times it was hard when we had to be involved in kaupapa like pōwhiri (welcome) because I had to organise the kids before getting there. But on the flip side of that, being involved in those things helped to reignite past knowledge that I thought I had forgotten.”
At 32 years old, not only did Ramari complete her degree but during her three years of full-time study she was also able to reconnect with her iwi.
This knowledge was something that she took home to her whānau and passed on to her own tamariki (children).
“I can share what I now know with my kids so that they understand their pepeha is more than just the words they say, but it is the places and people we whakapapa (descent) to.”
Ramari hopes to use her degree to teach and inspire tamariki and she dreams of one day soon delivering an educational and interactive programme that isn’t restricted to the walls of a classroom.
Studying with TWoA has helped Ramari discover the type of influential teacher she aspires to be and she hopes to see others with a passion for Māori in education complete their studies too.
“Tamariki need people that are invested in helping and inspiring them. You won’t just better yourself but you’ll be making a difference in the lives of tamariki too.”