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Te Awanui Waaka

Te Awanui Waaka image

Ngāti Pikiao (Te Arawa)

Bachelor of Science (Anatomy)

Studying for a Bachelor of Pharmacy
Current Kaitiaki Pūtea (Treasurer) of Te Puna Kaitaka (Māori Pharmacy Students’ Association)

He pāmamao te Whare Wānanga o Ōtākou i te ūkaipō o Te Awanui Waaka i a ia e tirohia ana i āna whiringa ako te mātau hauora e rima tau ki muri.

Nō te taone iti o Mourea, e kātata nei ki Rotorua ia, i toro mai ia ki te papa taurima o Ōtākou ki te hōtaka Māori ko REACH i a ia i te tau tuangahuru-mā-toru.

I perā rawa tana rata ki Ōtākou i tana toronga poto nei, i whakatauria kētia e ia te uru mai, ā, i oti kē i a ia tana Tohu Paetahi Pūtaiao

Ināianei kei te aro atu ia ki tōna Tohu Paetahi He Rau Kawakawa, e ako ai ia i ngā rongoā o ēnei rangi, engari i te ruku hoki ia ki ngā rongoā o te Māori.

He wheako hou ki a ia tana tau tuatahi, he hononga hou ōna, i te waea hoki ia ki te noho tauira. “Arohaina au te wāhi nei. Kōhau kore ana ahau taku haere mai ki Ōtākou”, ko tāna.

Mihi ana ia ki ngā ratonga tautoko Māori o te Whare Wānanga, nā rātou tōna hauora, āna tutukinga mātauranga, tana waea hoki ki te ao whare wānanga i tautoko.

Tākaro ana a Te Awanui i te poitūkohu tātāwhāinga ki te tīma matua o te Whare Wānanga ki te whakataetae ki Ōtepōti, ā, i te tākaro hoki ia ki te tīma Ōtākou tūturu ki ērā atu o ngā tīma whare wānanga o te motu.

Ka oti i a ia āna mahi ako i te tau 2021, e manako ana ia kia mahi hei kairongoā, ā, kei te rata pai ia ki tētahi tūranga ki te hohipera i te pai o te wheako ka rangona, engari me “tata kē ki te kainga”, ki Rotorua, ki Tāmaki Makaurau, ki Te Whanganui-ā-Tara rānei.


The University of Otago was a long way from home for Te Awanui Waaka when he was looking at his options to study health sciences five years ago.

From the small town of Mourea near Rotorua, he visited the Otago campus as part of the Māori REACH programme during Year 13.

He enjoyed his short visit to Otago so much he decided to study here, completing his Bachelor of Science degree in 2019.

He is now studying for a Bachelor of Pharmacy, learning about modern medicines but also delving into the traditional use of Māori medicines, or rongoa.

His first year was a new experience, making new connections and getting used to the student lifestyle.

“I love it here. I definitely have no regrets about coming to Otago,” he says.

He credits the University’s Māori support services, who have contributed to his well-being and health, academic achievements and adjusting to university life.

Te Awanui plays competitive basketball for the senior Varsity team in the Dunedin club competition and has represented Otago against other university teams.

When he completes his studies in 2021, he hopes to work as a pharmacist and is leaning towards a hospital placement for the experience it offers, probably “closer to home” in Rotorua, Auckland or Wellington.