Lesieli Seaton is a recent graduate of the Te Pōkai Mātauranga o te Ao Rua (Primary Bicultural Education) programme at the University of Otago Southland Campus.
“I had heard positive things about this programme, and not knowing a lot about all things Māori I knew it would deliver everything I needed. As a Tongan I felt that I would connect more because I had heard it is very family orientated and not having a lot of family near, that was important.”
Lesieli believes the teaching, support and opportunities provided at the Southland Campus gave her the confidence to realise her potential.
“My lecturers were very supportive and the atmosphere always welcoming. I found the teaching fundamental to my learning and I always knew that the lecturers were serious about their open door policy. I also enjoyed taking part in kapa haka and Murihiku Polyfest.
“My classmates were like whanau and we were stronger for it. Matua Parker, Jill Paris and all the staff at campus are amazing with sharing their knowledge and insight with us.
“I gained so much from my time studying; it has given me confidence in my understanding of things Maori, in seeking support and how I plan.”
Since graduating Lesieli has moved north with her husband and two daughters, and now works at Papatoetoe Intermediate School in Auckland.
“I am enjoying watching my kids progress, I still have a lot to learn but I have a wonderful team and the staff here are very supportive.”
And what would she say to potential students?
“I highly recommend the Te Pōkai programme because you will not only go on a journey of learning to be a teacher but you will discover a new sense of identity. Teaching kaupapa Māori starts with knowing who you are and valuing your own history.
“If you are serious about being the best teacher, then study at Southland Campus. Schools need teachers that understand the importance of teaching kaupapa Māori. Invercargill also has cheaper accommodation and the people are lovely there.”