For Kelly Nafatali, taking Māori Studies was a big step out of her comfort zone. “I didn’t know a lot about my Māori side; growing up in Dunedin there were not many opportunities to immerse myself in Māori studies.”
“Taking Māori Studies has been a journey in self-discovery – who I am and where I come from. I have been inspired to do more with iwi and have been learning about different tikanga and kaupapa, and how you can implement them in today’s society.
“A big thing at Otago, especially Te Tumu - School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies is whanaungatanga, belonging. Te Tumu encourages the tuakana-teina, elder sibling-younger sibling relationship when it comes to learning te reo. As beginner language learners, our tuākana supported us, and now we support our tēina. Also, the staff make a huge difference to the way in which we look at ourselves as students of the language and culture. They are always there to support us, all year round.”
Kelly initially chose some Communication Studies papers because she felt that they would be useful to her when she heads overseas. She has now discovered that Communication Studies works very well with Māori Studies. “Now I am able to look at things from an indigenous point of view. In social media and the media itself there is a specific way of viewing Māori, which is very narrow. We’re orators and we tell stories in many different ways, such as through performance. I want to share a deeper awareness of what our culture is really about.
“If you were to translate from Māori to English, even the simplest sentences sound almost Shakespearian, or sometimes a bit like Master Yoda! Learning Māori Studies is definitely one of the coolest things I’ve done. It has given me the knowledge and confidence to apply what I have learned outside the university setting, to society.”