Tuesday 20 August 2019 12:12pm
Graduand Maoira Puketapu-Dentice (right) celebrates with her mother Paea Dentice at a Māori pre-graduation ceremony on Friday.
Pride was abundant among whānau and graduands at the University of Otago’s Māori pre-graduation ceremony on Friday afternoon at Union Hall.
The 13 graduands across all four divisions were honoured for their achievements at Te Heika Pounamu.
As with all Māori pre-graduation ceremonies, graduands and their whānau are given the opportunity to honour those who have provided support, reassurance and belief throughout their academic journey.
"I was fortunate that I was the third member of my wider whānau who had been here. The support I have received since then… I have no words."
Among the group of graduands to address the crowd at Te Heika Pounamu was Master of Planning graduand Maiora Puketapu-Dentice (Te Atiawa, Tūhoe) who spent six years at Otago.
Miss Puketapu-Dentice thanked those who had helped her along her journey and encouraged her to finish her thesis, despite her propensity to procrastinate.
“I was fortunate that I was the third member of my wider whānau who had been here. The support I have received since then… I have no words.”
Taylor Terekia (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Te Tai Rāwhiti), who completed her Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Development/ He Kura Matanui and Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management, told those gathered that she did not want to spend her time talking about herself, but the opportunities her time at the University gave her.
“I feel like all these years added up to something. Now we can go out there in the world.”
Miss Terekia spoke about how her time at Otago gave her the opportunity to learn about Ngāi Tahu and form a meaningful connection to her iwi.
“They gave me my job. They gave me opportunities to give back to my iwi.”
"I feel like all these years added up to something. Now we can go out there in the world."
When she first started at Otago Miss Terekia did not know the Māori Centre existed but since she became involved with it she saw the value of seeing other Māori succeed in academia.
“When I see them succeed I feel like I can do more as well.”
While Miss Puketapu-Dentice spoke of her procrastination, another graduand joked that similarly he was a bit of “big procrastinator”.
Greg Houkamau (Ngāti Porou) first started at Otago in 1992 and after a long career teaching and working in addiction counselling all over the country he decided to complete the Bachelor of Arts in Māori Studies.
“I hear a lot of you rangitahi talk about procrastination and it’s right here – 28 years.”
Mr Houkamau congratulated the other graduands for all of the mahi (work) they did to complete their respective courses.
The next Te Heika Pounamu will take place on 6 December, a day before the first December graduation ceremony.