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Student Profiles

Monica Simich-Pene
Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Haua

Ngā Mana Whakairo a Toi, Bachelor of Māori Performing Arts

Background Summary:

I signed up for the Bachelor of Māori Performing Arts because it was an opportunity to get a formal qualification under my belt and to study something that I love. Going through the three-year programme as part of the Te Whānau a Apanui kapa haka cohort meant we were able to support each other. If you surround yourself with the right people and get them to critique and help you, you’ll eventually get there.

I really enjoyed learning about our art form in such an in-depth way. The focus always came back to our kapa haka and the items we were learning. Because the learning is around what you are practising, you gain a lot of knowledge almost without realising it.

Extra-mural study was difficult, but learning through monthly wānanga (block courses) meant I was able to work and earn money while studying. I was back and forth between Rotorua and Auckland all the time, working in television and tourism. I couldn’t have done this if I’d had to study during conventional university hours.

I had to learn good time management skills and I had amazing support, with my mother also studying at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi (for the Bachelor of Education – Teaching) and my step-dad, who works hard in the academic arena, always there encouraging me to keep going. I feel like my degree study grounded me, made me grow up a bit. I graduated alongside my mother in 2013, and that’s really something. For now, I’m a supervisor in my work in tourism in Rotorua, and planning to enrol in a post-graduate qualification in teaching in 2014.