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Student Profiles

Waimatao Anderson
Ngāti Awa, Ngāpuhi, Te Aupouri

He Tohu Ako Tawhiti, Bachelor of Mātauranga Māori

Background Summary:

The School of Iwi Development’s programmes are about upskilling whānau and hapū. At our marae, Taiwhakaea, they include computer skills, fishing, and a Bachelor of Mātauranga Māori (BMM). I thought: I’m not clever enough to get one of those – but once I started, I hungered to know more. My interest had been captured. I wanted to learn more about te reo Māori – for example, te reo pohewa (imagery). I come from an area where our parents were smacked for speaking their reo; by the time we came along English was the preferred language. So I decided to go for a BMM with my sister.

What helped get me through was having a group of us go through together. For three years, it was the seven of us. We were fortunate to have the backing of the hapū. Whenever we felt we needed a group session, we would go to the marae and stay there all day, all weekend. Take our food, pick each other up, and make a weekend of it. If we weren’t sure about the kaupapa we’d seek out a knowledgeable person to come to talk to us.

We graduated together in 2013. For my family, this is a big achievement. There are 10 of us. We were brought up knowing the importance of education but money was scarce, so working to live came first. It wasn’t until adulthood that we entered the education system.

The School of Iwi Development is taking education to the hapū, to the whānau, allowing us to achieve our goals together. Some of us would not have gone into the education system if it wasn’t on the marae. And I tell you what – it felt good to see our whānau go up at Graduation. I knew there were hapū out there watching our people walking across the stage and thinking: if they can do it, we can. It can be achieved as a whānau, as a hapū.

Waimatao Anderson was awarded Te Ira Wairua – the School of Iwi Development Top Scholar Award in 2013. Together with her sister and another member of the Taiwhakaea study group, Waimatao is now studying for a Master of Indigenous Studies.