Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

Tuesday 13 June 2023 11:30am

Te Hau - whanau image
From left: Tame Te Rangi with Te Hau Ariki's whānau: Rocky, Alosina, Puti Gardiner, Pateriki Toi, Te Hau Ariki, David Hunter, Orewia Naere, and Fiona Hunter at a remembrance event for the Jolene Patuawa -Tuilave Māori Leader in Law Scholarship.

For Otago graduate Te Hau Ariki Gardiner-Toi, the richness of his learning was not only found in the classroom.

Te Hau Ariki (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāpuhi) graduated on Saturday, 13 May with a Degree in Law and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Māori Studies.

“I firmly believe coming to Otago isn't just about being in the classroom. Getting involved in the community, particularly through student organisations such as Te Rōpū Whai Pūtake [The Māori Law Students' Association] and Te Roopū Māori [Māori Students' Association], was a valuable way for me to learn and grow.”

Te Hau Ariki's relationship with Otago began through an on-campus experience programme when he was a student at Taipa Area School, a school with a roll of under 200 tauira in Northland.

“I initially planned on going to Auckland, but when I visited Otago as a high school student, I thought that this would be the best place to be a student. We visited Te Huka Mātauraka and Te Roopū Māori, and the sense of community they offered really added to the attraction.”

He initially completed a Science degree, and then enrolled in Law. While he was inspired by the subject, he also found some challenges.

“For me personally, law was challenging in that there were not many Māori and when I first arrived, I quickly started to realise that the people who come to study law come from a specific class and race. It was challenging knowing that I didn't fit that mould. Te Roopū Whai Pūtake was a place of refuge, a place to see other Māori students and seek comfort.”

Te Hau Ariki - profile
Te Hau Ariki Gardiner-Toi says getting involved in the community and student organisations was a valuable way to learn and grow.

Te Hau Ariki went on to be President of Te Roopū Whai Pūtake in 2022 and he recently attended the celebrations of 30 years of the Roopū.

In his final year, he was recognised with the Jolene Patuawa -Tuilave Māori Leader in Law Scholarship.

This scholarship was established by the University of Otago Council in 2013 in remembrance of Jolene Patuawa-Tuilave, a promising graduate treasured by both colleagues and whanaunga in her short professional career.

Te Hau Ariki says receiving the scholarship meant a lot because "it helped me recognise how valuable my culture and skills in Te Ao Māori are".

The Law Faculty hosted an event the morning before graduation, to recognise and celebrate Te Hau Ariki as the 2022 scholarship recipient. The scholarship recognises academic ability, leadership qualities, passion and involvement in Te Ao Māori and Matauranga Māori and commitments to mentorship, Whanaungatanga and Manaakitanga.

Tame Te Rangi (Ngāti Whatua) attended as a representative for Ngāti Whatua and Jolene Patuawa -Tuilave's whānau.   He reflected on the qualities Jolene promoted in her profession and her maternal links to Dunedin, and said “this ceremony holds a special place in the hearts and minds of those at home”.

Te Hau - scholarship recipients image
Recipients of the Jolene Patuawa -Tuilave Māori Leader in Law Scholarship at the 30th reunion of Te Roopū Whai Pūtake in April this year. From left: Jacobi Kohu-Morris, Jazmine Cassidy, Te Hau Ariki Gardiner-Toi, Nerys Udy, Valerie Houkamau, Alice Anderson and Adam Tapsell.

Members of Te Hau Ariki's whānau were in attendance. His father Pateriki Toi said he is feeling very proud and humble that his son is the recipient of this award.

“Te Hau's mother Puti actually knows Jolene's Mum Jacqui Putuawa as a colleague and friend, so we are making those connections and it seems very appropriate as I learn more about the intention of this scholarship that Te Hau is the recipient.”

Te Hau Ariki now lives in Palmerston North and works for a legal firm based in Auckland. He enjoys working there because they are dedicated to Māori legal issues and strongly encourage the use of te reo Māori.

In acknowledging people who supported him in his journey, he says he was inspired by Professor Jacinta Ruru, Mihiata Pirini and Metiria Turei, three wāhine Maōri in the Law Faculty who taught Te Hau Ariki during his degree.

“I appreciated their presence because they understand our experiences as students of Law and they are still in that space making progress in re-indigenising law.”

He also thanks and acknowledges the support of his family.

“It's always tough being away from home. Their support both emotionally and financially, and knowing they are always behind me, has been hugely important.”

Back to top