I grew up in a rural Banks Peninsula community called Koukourarata (Port Levy). This was my pā, and base of my hapū Kāi Tūtehuarewa, of the Kāi Tahu people.
I'm working full-time so I chose postgraduate study via distance because I could fit it in with my work — I'm currently Regional Operations Manager at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in the Tainui region — and family life as my wife Dione and I have three boys. Dione is doing her PhD at Victoria University in a discipline that's similar to mine and that's how I became interested. Most of my study is done after hours when the kids are asleep, or during work study time granted by my employer.
It was this specific course and the flexibility that wasn't replicated anywhere else that made me choose Otago for my Masters degree. I also always loved Dunedin and my previous time at Otago when I started my undergraduate degree. So far I've completed three papers and now I'm working on my 20,000 word research report, Do selectively superior whāngai succession rights exist for Māori Land?
Whāngai are children who have been customarily adopted in accordance with tikanga Māori. My dissertation explores the circumstances that gave rise to selective superiority for whāngai when succeeding to Māori land, and also shows the inequities blood kin and whāngai alike face when dealing with different legislation in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
My lecturers have been outstanding in terms of their knowledge and engagement online, and my supervisor is really supportive, even when his comments are challenging ideas I've put forward. This is part of the fun of it! I also love using the University library's online databases.
In the future I want to proceed on to my PhD in the same discipline. My Masters qualification will be a big step towards this.