The vision of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is, whānau transformation through education, and that has been the case for one Hamilton family.
Mother and daughter, Gazelle Rangitakatu and Annaleah Hoera completed He Korowai Ākonga, Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching) along with two other wāhine (women) in their whānau.
“I love the fact that I had my oldest daughter graduate first and now me and Annaleah. And this year we have my other daughter doing her first year of teaching at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. I love it, it’s just beautiful,” says Gazelle.
It was Annaleah who encouraged her mum to take the next step and study primary teaching after seeing her work as a teacher aide for over 20 years.
But at 53-years-old, Gazelle had the opinion that she was too old to study and had doubts about her ability to achieve.
“My biggest fear would have been that I was too old and I didn’t know what to do. But Te Wānanga o Aotearoa embraced my knowledge whether I thought it was little or not. Whatever you have, big or small, it’s valuable, it’s a taonga (treasure). You bring yours; I’ll bring mine and together we will flourish,” says Gazelle.
Prior to studying, Annaleah spent nine years as a manager at McDonald’s, which meant her ability to take weekends and public holidays off was limited.
But since completing their bachelors, both wāhine were offered and accepted teaching roles in reo rua (bilingual) classrooms at Hamilton’s Bankwood School.
“Part of my decision to change careers was the flexibility that teachers have. For nine years I never had weekends off. Now I have more freedom and I’m appreciative of this career,” says Annaleah.
The learning environment at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa was one where Gazelle and Annaleah felt at home and safe to explore their learning and it was this learning that they have now taken into their own classrooms.
“In the first term I make sure my students feel like they belong and that it’s a safe space to learn. That is one thing I learnt from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa that I will continue,” says Annaleah.