Stevie TeHau-Fergusson says going to university was ‘a journey that was always meant to happen’, but she came down to Otago because of her best friend. “I come from a small rural town in Central Hawkes Bay and none of my immediate or extended family finished high school, so it was a scary thing, for all of us, for me to come to university at the bottom of a completely different island.”
She’s loved it – her studies, the University and Dunedin. “I really enjoyed the papers in indigenous development as I learned about the struggles and challenges indigenous people were faced with; discovering more of the history we didn’t get at high school. Also, the papers worked really well with my commerce degree in management.”
At Te Tumu – School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies, “the staff are so welcoming, they are always there to support us. They are so passionate about what they do, they have lived and breathed what they are teaching and that makes it easier to connect with students.”
For the Humanities Practicum Internship paper, Stevie was an intern with KUMA – Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru, the Southern Māori Business network. “I did research for KUMA, looking over their strategic plan, their constitution and some of their practices, to see if they were translating their values into practice.”
Several things have come from this internship – Stevie has gained a wider community network through KUMA, and she has been offered a job with them over the summer. She has also decided to go on to postgraduate study in the Master of Indigenous Studies programme.
“I wanted to break the stereotypical cycle . . . I could have worked in the shearing sheds or at the freezing works, but studying here has given me so much more confidence and independence. I am very thankful I came.”