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Joy Gilgen - raranga tauira, graduate

Joy Gilgen had always thought that raranga was a practice reserved for older generations, but after having her first pēpē in 2022, she had the urge to do something holistic and reground herself in te ao Māori.

That’s when the 33-year-old Kirikiriroa mum decided to study Kāwai Raupapa Level 4 in raranga at the Raroera campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

“I like the practice and the place it takes me to holistically. I feel like raranga has brought me back to my taha Māori and acted as the pathway that’s taken me back to te ao Māori,” says Joy.

This year, Joy will proudly walk the graduation stage at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Tainui ceremony, receiving her Toi Paematua Level 5 in raranga after successfully completing the programme in 2023.

It’s a moment that Joy is excited to experience and one that she says will no doubt fill her with a great sense of pride.

Joy was hapū with her second pēpē during Semester A of her diploma and by Semester B, she’d had her son but still managed to continue her studies with the support of her kaiako and fellow tauira.

“I would take my pēpē to noho with me, and it was special to bring him into a space with my classmates and my kaiako. I felt like it was my little āhuru mōwai (calm place) for both my baby and I.”

Creativity and design have always been a big part of Joy’s life. After leaving school she completed her Diploma in Fashion and Design at Wintec and gained valuable sewing skills while working for a local fashion designer.

Her love for textiles also led her to work in the Australian apparel industry, but her experience with mahi toi at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is one that has made a lasting impact on her and her whānau.

“The study has expanded my perspectives and the kōrero we have in our home. Things that I didn’t know I had within me have come out through my mahi toi. I absolutely recommend Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Everyone in my class, including the kaiako that I’ve had, have become like extended whānau.”

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Published On: 18 April 2024

Article By: Cassia Ngaruhe

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