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Student Profiles

Rukingi Richards
Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru o Te Arawa

Master of Indigenous Studies

Background Summary:

Ten years ago I suffered a stroke. I went to sleep at night and woke up the next morning in a nightmare, not knowing who I was, or my wife, my children, my mokopuna … it’s taken 10 years to piece my life back together.

Before the stroke, I was a bilingual teacher, chair of our marae, employed by the Ministry of Education, and active in the community. One minute I was fully involved in my community, and the next I didn’t know who I was. After the stroke I didn’t step out of my house for months, but eventually I realised I needed to challenge myself and decided to return to education, which has always been in my life one way or another. I completed a Bachelor of Teaching and a Graduate Diploma in Special Needs Resource Teaching, and began teaching te reo Māori.

In 2013 I decided to pursue a Masters degree to research the impact of stroke on whānau in Te Arawa. It has been an incredible journey. I have ended up with all these amazing stories about how whānau have worked to help their stroke sufferers not just survive but have a life worth living. Every year 750 Māori suffer stroke and the research shows it’s not just the elderly – the spread is right through the ages.

The study wasn’t easy for me. One of the problems I face is short-term memory loss, which makes studying really challenging. But the post-graduate team led by Dr Virginia Warriner has been awesome – their motivating and positive words are infectious.

I hope my research will raise awareness of the impact of stroke on Māori whānau and individuals. Researching this kaupapa through a Master of Indigenous Studies at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi was the perfect learning environment and I am grateful.