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Sun striking the ClocktowerThursday 19 April 2018 2:19pm

Wayne Te Kaawa image
New University of Otago Māori Chaplain, the Reverend Wayne Te Kaawa.

Reverend Wayne Te Kaawa's spiritual journey has gone full circle, thanks to a new opportunity at the University of Otago.

The PhD student has recently taken up a new position as the University's Māori Chaplain to assist students and staff with the spiritual aspect (te taha wairua) of life on campus.

The position is the first of its kind at any of the country's major universities.

Rev Te Kaawa, of Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau, Ngāi Tuhoe and Ngāti Awa descent, says it is an incredible opportunity.

“It's an honour to have the position and it's an exciting space to be in knowing what we're doing here could influence other tertiary instiutions to do the same,” Rev Te Kaawa says.

Rev Te Kaawa finished his undergraduate and post-ministry training at the University in 2001, during which he spent six months with the University's chaplaincy team.

Since then, the ordained priest and former leader of the Presbyterian Māori Synod has worked in Te Teko, Auckland, Rotorua and Opotiki before eventually arriving in Dunedin to study his PhD in 2017.

After rejoining the chaplaincy team and assisting Reverend Greg Hughson over the Christmas period, Rev Te Kaawa says he gained the confidence to speak about a passion close to his heart.

“I told them, did you know there are no Māori tertiary chaplains in this country?

“It just so happened to be that they were discussing this as well. I did not get involved in that process, I just watched it organically come to life.”

The jobs keep piling up for Rev Te Kaawa, who will be formally inducted at the University on 10 May. As well as his PhD and work as the Māori chaplain, Rev Te Kaawa will be teaching a new Māori Theology and Religion paper in the Department of Theology and Religion next year.

He is also a kaumutua on Arai Te Uru Marae and chairman of Te Roopu Tautoko ki te Tonga Hauora.

Rev Te Kaawa says having a vast array of portfolios comes down to a passion to help Māori succeed.

“When I walked into the University, I thought about what footprint I wanted to leave that will benefit ultimately the University and the Māori community here.

“When it comes to the chaplaincy and the lecturing work, I have achieved those two goals – now I just have to work on that PhD.”

For more information, contact:

Reverend Wayne Te Kaawa
Māori Chaplain
University of Otago
Mob 027 553 3007

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