With all her tamariki (children) having grown up and made the move across the ditch, it’s left just Rena Mclean living here in Aotearoa.
But the Whanganui local wouldn’t say she’s alone, instead she has found a whānau amongst those she has studied with at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
“I have made some good friendships. I’ve been able to work with a variety of people that I would normally never meet. You form quite a strong roopu (group).”
Rena first came to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in the early 2000’s to study te reo Māori, but put studying on hold due to her busy schedule as a teacher.
Since retiring, the keen artist decided to give raranga (weaving) a go and last year she completed Kāwai Raupapa, Certificate in Māori and Indigenous Art at the Whanganui campus.
“It was a worthwhile programme to take and apply yourself in. The successes you can achieve are just incredible, so I would recommend it to anybody.”
Working in education roles for most of her adult life has shown Rena the importance of constantly upskilling and learning, and this is the case for her, even in retirement.
Switching roles from always teaching, to now learning and being a tauira (student) is refreshing for Rena and she has a great appreciation for the kaiako (teacher) she has been able to learn from.
“My kaiako has been inspiring and it’s amazing how she teaches all of us in our different stages of learning. She works with us individually, and collectively, and she accepts us with where we are at and all our personalities.”
Throughout her life Rena has done a lot of academic and theory-based learning, so she is happy to now be in an environment where she is hands on and learning a skill that exercises her creative side.
The sense of achievement that came with every piece of mahi toi (artwork) that she created in class is a highlight for Rena and she hopes to keep achieving while continuing her raranga journey at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
“Your personality and character come into what you create, and I have found that it also helps me touch base with who I am, go deeper and look at who has come before me and what they have done.”
Find out more about our Toi Māori (art) programmes.