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New Kaiāwhina Māori knows value of support for tauira

Thursday 18 March 2021 12:59pm


New Division of Humanities Kaiāwhina Māori — Māori Student Support Officer Tenaya Brown says the guidance she received from staff, family, friends and colleagues at Otago both reinforced the importance of whakawhānaungatanga and inspired her personal and academic success.

M ThompsonFawcett Staff Photo
Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett

Humanities Associate Dean Māori Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett says the Division is delighted at Tenaya’s appointment.

“Tenaya is a confident and outgoing person who has a strong commitment to encouraging and inspiring our tauira. The experience that she brings with her from roles at Te Huka Matauraka and her external leadership activities – such as tutoring Kapa Haka and vocal training – is ideal for the position.”

Before a welcome for Humanities Māori tauira this week, Tenaya described how the University of Otago, and the connections she's made in the region, have provided a home away from home:

Where are you from originally, and where did you grow up etc?

Ko Titirangi te maunga
Ko Ūawanui-a-Ruamatua te awa
Ko Horouta te waka
Ko Puketāwai raua ko Hinemaurea ōku marae
Ko Te-Aitanga-ā-Hauiti te hapū
Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi
Ko Tenaya Hera-Maree Brown tōku ingoa.

I’m from Tolaga Bay (Ūawa), a small rural town on the East Coast of the North Island but lived in Brisbane, Australia with my parents and brothers and completed high school at Marsden State High School. I wanted to move back home to further my education. Like most of us down here, I’m a long way from both my haukāinga and my human-form home as well, my parents and brothers.

I chopped and changed many times about what I wanted to study. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but that was because I wanted to do everything. All I knew was that helping people would be my endgame; in anything and everything that I did. However, I sent my parents on a whirlwind of a ride deciding what to do with my life but luckily they support me and MOST of the decisions I make – sorry Mum and Dad!

When did you come to Otago, what did you study, and when did you graduate?
I came to Dunedin in 2016. I had planned to go down the health-care pathway and study Midwifery at Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC). Instead, I completed a Cert. IIII in Relaxation Massage in 2015 and made the move to Te Waipounamu to carry on with my passion for music.

In the midst of Covid-19, I graduated December 2020 with a Bachelor in Contemporary Music Performance. This was a great accomplishment for my whānau, my friends and myself because it was a collective effort.

What made you choose Otago, and what did you enjoy about studying - any stand out staff or friends who helped your journey?
I heard about Otago's School of Performing Arts from two incredibly good friends of mine (Kaharau Keogh; Bachelor of Māori Studies, Graduate Dip of Contemporary Music and Tuakoi Ohia; BA  Indigenous Development and Contemporary Music Performance) who spoke highly of everything the School of Performing Arts and the Māori Department had to offer; they had me sold straight away and I handed my audition tape in within a week of them telling me about it. I also had my Aunty Hinauri Donald (BA Māori, Spanish and Linguistics) studying at Otago, which made the move to Dunedin easier. I wouldn’t have made it without her. They then introduced me to Te Roopū Māori, our Māori students’ association who have been by my side ever since.

What I enjoyed most about studying down here was the friends I’ve made who are now my whānau. Because my parents lived in Australia and I shipped myself to the other end of the country rather than settling back home on the East Coast, I had to literally find those friends to fill that “homesick” void. I moved to Dunedin during quite a low time – but the city ended up becoming an escape and keeping in touch with home was next to nothing.

Being enrolled in Music and meeting new people who had no idea what I was going through was kind of like a breath of fresh air, I didn’t have to explain or worry about anything though it hung over me for a very long time. I knew I had to do something about it and of those new people I met, it was the Māori Centre who helped me shift that uneasy feeling into something to learn from.

What did you gain from working at the Māori Centre/ Te Huka Mātauraka?
I worked for the Māori Centre for a year as a kaiāwhina where I helped support Māori tauira from administrative duties through to Māori Centre exam breakfasts, Te Heika Pounamu pre-graduation ceremonies and Turaka Hou/ Ka Rikarika ā Tāne events. Within that time, I was able to gain a lot of my skills that I have now from all the mahi that goes into making sure things run smoothly for our tauira Māori. Being able to be a part of such an awesome team as well as being a part of our students’ journeys at University is the overall reward; reinforcing the core values of whakawhānaungatanga, being a role model for them, letting them know it is OK to ask for help and fostering new skills so our tauira realise the importance of their full potential. With that comes lots and lots of extra whānau members, which I absolutely love.

What are you looking forward to bringing to the role with the Division?
I’m looking forward to working alongside Kaiāwhina, and particularly with our Pasifika support officer Sia Lei Mata’afa; and whānau and bringing what we can offer to the table for the betterment of our undergraduate and postgraduate tauira. Whakawhānaungatanga is the integral backbone of working collaboratively to achieve our goals.

Retiring Te Huka Mātauraka Tumuaki / Manager Pearl Matahiki

What are some important things to think about when supporting our students, and what are some of your goals?
The support I’ve received over the course of my degree, as well as post-degree, has been second to none. I wouldn’t be where I am today without;
Te Huka Mātauraka (Nanny Pearl Matahiki- Tumuaki, Karin Fraser- Māori Administratior Client Services, Arihia Joseph- Māori Student Academic Coordinator, Frank Edwards- Māori Community Liason Officer, Ken Tipene- Māori Mentoring and Orientation Coordinator, Kiritapu Murray and Amber Kalinowski- Counsellors, Helen Papuni- Māori Chaplain); Te Roopū Māori Students’ Association, the School of Performing Arts (Hannah Thompson-Holloway and Arlie McCormick- Vocal lecturers and coaches, David Harrison- Teaching fellow), Te Tumu (Kelly-Ann Tahitahi, Matua Poia Rewi), Koro Hata from the Office of Māori Development and my beautiful friends.

Now, it feels right to do the same and give back by helping our tauira in all ways possible; assuring them that they’re not alone and someone’s door is always open for them.

I have gained enough experience over my years to understand the benefits of the Māori Student support networks that are available on campus as well as making sure our tauira look after themselves and their friends; at the end of the day it is a team effort. My main goal is to develop and maintain positive relationships that’ll allow our Māori students to use their voice, aspire to be the best they can be and walk across that big stage.

What are some interests outside of work?
South Pacific Titans Netball Committee working alongside Gianna Leoni (Manager), Mariana Te Pou (Sciences Division), Jacinta Beckwith (Library), Karin Fraser and Aliyah Tautuhi-Fraser and Te Whare Wānanga o Aōtearoa- Kāwai Raupapa IIII with Heramaahina Eketone.

The new Kaiāwhina Māori o Te Kete Aronui emblem designed by Jayden Hokianga

New emblem for Kaiāwhina Māori o Te Kete Aronui

Tenaya says the new Kaiāwhina Māori o Te Kete Aronui emblem was designed by Jayden Hokianga (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Maniapoto). 

1. Whakanihoniho- Tāniko pattern/ weaving design. Used to reference a Korowai. The protective nature of a Korowai, spiritually/physically over the many tauira on their journey.
2. Koru- Refernce to groth and development. Four koru to reflect :Ngā Hau E Wha” representing the four winds/ joing of tauira from the many respective Iwi and Hapū of Aōtearoa.
3. Koruru- A carved face that sits on top of a Wharenui. To represent Tāne who is generally acknowledged as the atua who climbed to the heavens to obtain “Ngā Kete Mātauranga, Te Kete Aronui” being one of those baskets of knowledge.