Juggling work as Communications Advisor for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa while completing his masters, and writing a book has meant Tracey Cooper’s plate has been rather full recently.
Fortunately with his exegesis completed, book published and work in wind-down mode for Christmas he’s able to take a breather and reflect on his journey through study. His journey to He Waka Hiringa (Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge) followed four years of te reo study. Tracey says, “working for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, it was just so easy to study with them too. But after level 6 (Te Aupikitanga ki to Reo Kairanga) I was ready for a change from te reo and the masters looked interesting”.
The masters programme runs for two years, beginning with four modules in the first year which help you understand who you are, and how you understand the world, and delves into what your indigenous practice is and why you practice it. The career path Tracey had taken to this point, and researching and understanding his practice – writing – allowed him to formulate the question his exegesis sought to answer: ‘How do we encourage more Māori to write stories?’.
For his community project, the core of the work required in the second year, Tracey was fortunate to connect with a fellow tauira who wanted her own story told. Joni Brooking, a moko kauae artist, is passionate about educating the world about moko, and is the subject of Mokolife, the book Tracey has now completed and published. Their story has been brought to life following many hours of connection and conversation, establishing a lifelong friendship, and made Tracey realise how much joy he found in helping someone to achieve their own goal.
Tracey and his fellow tauira recently held a presentation seminar and dinner at the Mangakōtukutuku campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Hamilton. This was their opportunity to showcase their work, and be supported by whānau and friends. Tracey was also fortunate enough to have his book launch at He Rau Aroha, an outreach service in Gisborne. He Rau Aroha is a place close to Joni’s heart, where people in distress can get help or simply come to view artwork and other taonga. “The turnout was great, there was so much gratitude for the book”.
Tracey is very grateful for the support he’s received while completing his study. “The team, everyone has been awesome, especially my manager Jade Edwards”.
Now on the other side of it, with just graduation to come in April, he recommends the course as a great opportunity to learn about yourself and your place in the world.