During his last year of high school the 2011 election sparked an interest in politics that Te Hau White decided to follow to the University of Otago.
Te Hau studied a range of subjects, completing a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Politics and Indigenous Development before undertaking an honours year in Politics. The lecturers, he says, were a highlight.
“It was great to be taught by incredibly smart lecturers – they are some of the best in the world and they were always willing to go the extra mile. They were more than happy to sit down and have a chat if you were struggling, and to give you extra help and opportunities when you needed it.
“I gained a range of transferable skills during my time at university – the ability to read, analyse and interpret information in a meaningful way is really valuable in my day-to-day working life.”
Just as important as those transferable skills, he says, is the broader growth and development that being at Otago leads to.
“I'm from the far North so it was a bit of a change. Moving from the country to a city so far from home certainly was an introduction to adult life, but Otago is such a great place to find your feet.
“My first year in Studholme stands out, as do the great friends I made. I now have this strong network of people all across the country – no matter where I am I probably know someone which is really cool.”
“I'm now a policy advisor for Ngāi Tahu. I work as part of a team of 12 who are responsible for external engagement and representation for the tribe. I work a lot with the crown advocating on behalf on Ngāi Tahu, which fits really well with both of my major subjects. I often rely on the skills and knowledge I gained during my study of politics and indigenous development.
“My role is really interesting; we are dealing with a lot of different issues, which means there is so much variety in what I do.
“I think I'm incredibly lucky, within a month of completing my honours year I had secured the job with Ngāi Tahu. It's a fantastic place to work, with plenty of development and career opportunities, which is fantastic for a graduate starting out like myself."