Gisborne sisters, Mererangi and Hoana Kaa believe that education is a key pathway to keeping Māoritanga (culture) thriving in all parts of Aotearoa and empowers Māori to step into leadership.
Both sisters completed the He Puāwai, Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Teaching programme at the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Gisborne campus and say that their learning was a good reminder of the importance of Māori in education spaces.
“It’s important that Māori are in education spaces because for a long time we were silent and a lot of our tikanga and Māoritanga has only been kept within our homes or our marae and a lot of our people have missed out,” says Mererangi.
Studying with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa meant Hoana and Mererangi were able to learn in an environment where they felt comfortable and safe to grow in both their knowledge and confidence.
“Our kaiako (teacher) helped us to develop an understanding of who we are and taught us to be comfortable with our uniqueness. I really enjoyed the learning space and the chance she gave us to learn from the mistakes we made,” says Hoana.
The learning they have both gained has played a key role in the continued study they are doing as they work towards their bachelor of humanities and Hoana’s role as a quality assurance technician.
Hoana secured the role at LeaderBrand through the help of her kaiako and takes what she has learnt to help support her fellow co-workers.
“I like to encourage diverse conversations because we have people from many cultures and backgrounds at mahi and everyone has been through something. It’s about supporting each other and always improving our workspace,” says Hoana.
Mererangi and Hoana are passionate about education and hope to see more Māori of all ages and backgrounds place themselves in education spaces and pass their learning onto others in their whānau and iwi.
“It’s essential that we have Māori in leadership and share our knowledge because that is shared power. That’s basically why my sister and I do what we do and why we’re studying what we study, to empower ourselves and empower those around us,” says Mererangi.