Before studying raranga at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (TWoA), Zelda Te Pairi barely left her house and was struggling with low self-esteem.
But since completing both the certificate and diploma in raranga (weaving) she has been able to slowly heal from past trauma and find a new sense of self confidence.
“The whole concept of raranga is exactly what I needed to rebuild some foundations in my life. Studying has been like a time of restoration for me,” says Zelda who studied at TWoA’s Waiwhero campus in Rotorua.
Zelda was surprised to learn that her time studying didn’t just involve the practical side of weaving and the history of the artform but she also learnt skills that she was able to take into her personal life.
“You’re taught to calm yourself if you want your work to look nice, because how you feel is going to show in your work. You have to take a good look within yourself and take time out. I learnt it’s okay to invest in yourself and your healing.”
Zelda described her introduction to TWoA’s raranga programme as a ‘happy accident’ after she took her son to the campus to enrol in a class of his own.
She came across the raranga classroom and after seeing all the mahi toi (art work) on display she knew it was something she had to learn and hasn’t looked back since.
“My kaiako were amazing and we learnt so much more than I ever thought. It’s helped to open my mind, expand my world and empowered me,” says Zelda who will celebrate the completion of her diploma in this year’s TWoA online graduation ceremony.
Before studying raranga, Zelda’s whānau had no traditional taonga (treasures) or kākahu (garments) of their own to wear at celebrations and events but that has all changed since she began her studies.
“We've always had to borrow or compensate with other materials when it came to tangihanga (funerals), hura kōhatu (unveilings) or graduations. The kākahu that I’ve made have already been used in weddings, unveilings and birthdays.”
Zelda is now studying a Bachelor of Māori Art – Raranga with TWoA and plans to take all the knowledge she has gained back to her whānau.
“I will definitely be passing what I have learnt on to others in my whānau and keep this kaupapa (topic) alive”
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