Not many people would think of taking up tertiary education in their 80’s, but that’s not the case for Rangi Hinga. The much-loved kaumātua is now in his fourth year of study at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
To add to his achievements, he is the 2023 recipient of the Tāne Taylor Award, receiving $3000 to go towards his studies. He was initially nominated by his moko, Elizabeth Kingi.
“It’s an absolute privilege studying alongside my papa. He’s an inspiration with how hard working he is. This journey has uplifted his mana and the ripple effect has uplifted our whānau and other tauira,” says Elizabeth who began her studies with her pāpā, Rangi in 2020.
Rangi grew up in an era where speakers of te reo Māori were punished. This resulted in him losing his reo, the language he was brought up speaking at home.
At 79, he enrolled in Te Whāinga o te Ao Tikanga with Elizabeth and began his journey to claim back the reo that he had always been proud of but was once afraid of speaking.
“When pāpā stood in our tikanga class to introduce himself, he had a piece of paper in his hand with his pepeha written down and his hands were shaking. I’d never seen him like that. It was a combination of not having his reo and the impact of being punished at school for speaking te reo Māori. Now he’s in an educational environment all these years later and we are encouraging him to speak reo Māori.”
Rangi and Elizabeth have since completed two te reo Māori programmes with Te Wananga o Aotearoa, He Pī ka Pao and Te Pūtaketanga o te Reo. Now at 82, Rangi is studying Te Rōnakitanga ki te Reo Kairangi (level 5) with Elizabeth and her husband, who has been inspired to join them both on the journey.
With 6 children, 27 mokopuna and 43 great grandchildren, Rangi already has a big whānau, but he has also made a whole new whānau amongst the many tauira he has met and studied alongside.
“With pāpā being on this journey it has changed the dynamic of our whānau because everybody is immensely proud of him. His kōrero is; every class he’s in, he gains a whole new set of mokopuna.”
Rangi reluctantly submitted his own scholarship application after being encouraged by kaimahi of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. In his application he says, “as a pensioner, I like to think that studying is keeping me young and keeps my mind active.”
With the money that Rangi will receive through the Tāne Taylor Award, he hopes to purchase a new laptop, some printer ink, extra tutoring, and petrol to travel to study groups, all helping him continue to thrive in his studies.
“Pāpā doesn’t use his age as an excuse, he views himself like all other tauira. He doesn’t brag or show-off, he’s our beautiful and humble pāpā.”