Open main menu Close main menu


Dedicated staff and students maintain inspiration despite challenges of lockdown

Thinking outside the square comes naturally to Unitec’s Bachelor of Creative Enterprise student Tonina Ngatai (Ngāti Whakaue, Te Arawa).


14 September 2021

Despite the disruption of a level 4 lockdown Tonina says the authentic support of her lecturers at Unitec’s School of Creative Industries has helped maintain her inspiration.

“I’m a very proud mother of eight beautiful children and now that they are older and independent, I decided it was time to pursue my creative side.I loved my first semester and I’m actually really enjoying being in my little bubble for this one, it’s obviously been a bit more challenging but I think all tauira have been put in a space where we’ve really had to think on our feet.”

Now halfway through her Bachelor’s Degreee in Art, Tonina says she thoroughly enjoys it and values the expertise of those supporting her learning journey.

“The lecturers are always there for you, you reach out to them they tap you right back if you’re a bit stuck for insipration they get our brains triggered. They’re just so knowledgable they know their stuff and are able to assess where you’re at, who you are and where you want to.”

Access to resource Creative Enterprise students would often need to complete projects was cut off after the country was thrust into level 4 lockdown.

“We didn’t get the opportunity to go to Bunnings to stock up on supplies, so we’ve really had to stretch our creative thinking, I’ve made glue from flour sugar and water and had to scour our house for different material to use for our projects.”

Tonina says her lecturers use their expertise, their networks and their own creativity to maintain motivation and enthusiasm.

“One of my lecturers, Gina Fergusson connected me to an American artist called Nick Cave. He makes soundscape suits and they’re bright big and coourful, so for my latest piece I’m trying to recreate something along those lines but in the korowai form. I’ve got lots of wool lying aorund the house and some leftover hessan cloth so these are the materials I’m using.”

The talent and beautiful tāonga (treasures) crafted and created by Tonina throughout her study speak volumes and she says she’s looking forward to continuing to pursue her passion.

“I am grateful to have maintained my connection to staff at Unitec, especially our MAIA and Marae whanau. I was a part of the Marae staff for a number of years and enjoyed my role as the Kaitiaki Manaaki,. I do miss that creative space with kai and manaaki for our manuhiri but it is time to take off the apron and put on my overalls and throw some paint around.”