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Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is a uniquely Māori learning environment for everyone, and as they say, “We're not a university or a polytech. We're a wānanga. And that's just a little bit different.”
When Hemi May Kelly was studying towards her Maunga Kura Toi (Raranga) degree at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa she never imagined she’d be creating something for the first child of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
But that’s how things turned out in late March, when the Prime Minister was called on to Kai-A-Te-Mata Marae on the outskirts of her hometown of Morrinsville. Among the gifts presented to Jacinda Ardern by Ngāti Hāua were a pounamu taonga shaped like a waka called Te Ara Hou, as a symbol of guidance and a wahakura named Tau te Rangimarie, meaning ‘may there be peace’.
Hemi May says it was a huge honour to be asked to create the wahakura for such an important person. She has made plenty of wahakura before, but none have received so much attention. Her husband is from Kai-A-Te-Mata and his uncle is the marae chairman, and Hemi-May says it was a real privilege.
“It was really awesome.” She says it usually takes two days to create a wahakura, with the biggest challenge finding the time among her other commitments. “I’ve made quite a few now, Most times I do the prep in one go and the weaving in one go.”
And, as the Prime Minster can attest, Hemi May is very good at what she does. Hemi-May graduated with her Maunga Kura Toi degree in 2017 after studying at the Rāhui Pōkeka (Huntly) campus and says studying raranga was about her own personal growth. “I was doing a degree at Waikato University and the tutor suggested Maunga Kura Toi. The university degree was more about career but Maunga Kura Toi was about developing my skills for my own worth. It was something I wanted to do for myself.”
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa have sites in 80 towns and cities around the country where you can up skill, get started on a learning journey, or have a second chance at education, so for more information on online courses NZ, distance learning NZ and online courses please go to www.twoa.ac.nz .