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Tipuna Edward Smith - graduate of level 1 and 2 certificate in te reo Māori, He Pī Ka Pao

Studying at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has given Hastings dad, Tipuna Edward Smith, a new lease on life after many years of battling with his mental health.

After a random act of violence that resulted in a serious brain injury, Tipuna was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety.

Despite his mental health challenges, he has completed the level 1 and 2 certificate in te reo Māori, He Pī Ka Pao, at the Hastings campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

“I wish I had learnt this earlier because I realised learning this language – it’s like I can feel my brain spark. I can’t quite explain it but this has made me feel like a new person.”

Once an ambitious musician, Tipuna says the attack took him down a different life path, suffering some of the darkest days of his life and years of feeling emotionally numb.

Coming to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa was what Tipuna described as “an act of God” and a “divine intervention.” He referred to it as being like a church, a place of healing for him.

“You could say it’s given me a rebirth. It’s given me the confidence to walk out the door and be comfortable about who I am.”

Studying at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa was a positive experience for Tipuna. Due to a welcoming classroom environment and support from his kaiako (teacher), Matina Clarke, he had the tools he needed to overcome his struggles.

“I felt like I could gravitate to Matina. He was really easy to confide in and brought a lot of understanding to simple stuff like, tikanga. Now that I have an understanding I can do a lot more.”

Tipuna has decided to continue his reo Māori journey, studying the level 3 and 4 certificate, He Pī Ka Rere.

He is confident that by continuing his learning journey he will live up to the vision of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, whānau transformation through education. Transformation that he has had and seen for himself.

“This has given me a new lease on life, self-satisfaction and personal growth.”

Find out more about our Te Reo Māori programmes.

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Published On: 13 June 2023

Article By: Te Rina Pomare



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