Minishka always had a passion for teaching, right from a young age she knew that it was what she wanted to do. The decision between early childhood and primary was a bit trickier.
“I knew I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives but I didn’t really know if early childhood or primary was right for me. Thankfully I was able to do gateway at school and it became clear primary was the path for me.
“I started out in the mainstream primary programme but I discovered a real passion for Māori culture and history as we learnt about it during those first few months.”
Minishka was able to move into the Te Pōkai Mātauranga o te Ao Rua programme (Primary Bicultural Education) at the end of her first semester to include a focus on te Ao Māori within her degree.
“It was the best decision I have made. It is such a fantastic programme. I had never really been exposed to Māori culture in school, so to be able to come to University and go on this learning journey was amazing.
“It was a bit of a challenge at the start. Having no knowledge of Māori Culture or te reo left me wondering, ‘did I belong’, but Parker (the programme coordinator) made sure this feeling didn’t last. The level of support from both Parker and the other staff and students was just fantastic.
“The Southland Campus has a real whanau approach, the lecturers made a big effort to build relationships right from the start with different programmes and year groups coming together when we could.
“One of the things I really appreciated was the journey we were encouraged to go on to explore our own culture first. I learned more about where I am from, and my family history and values, which was really insightful.”
Minishka now works at Winton Primary School, where she undertook her third year placement last year.
“It’s incredible, but I really do use what I learnt in the Te Pōkai programme everyday. It informs the values and practices of my classroom. As an example, the concept of tuakana–teina is fundamental, with older or more experienced students supporting younger students. I’ve also been able to use the content I learnt during my degree for different learning units throughout the year.
“If you are thinking about teaching my only advice is do it. It really is the most rewarding career. Every single day, a student makes your day. Whether it’s them getting something you’ve been teaching, or just something they’ve said, they’ll put a smile on your face and you’ll know you have chosen the right career.”