Honouring the success and strength of ākonga Māori and their whānau in a mainstream learning environment is at the heart of Kahurangi celebrations.
For the past 20 years Te Whare Wānanga o Wairaka has held the Kahurangi ceremony to celebrate the success of Māori graduates under the banner of Te Noho Kotahitanga.
More than 200 people attended this year’s gathering where 28 Māori graduates across a range of disciplines were gifted a pounamu crafted uniquely for this kaupapa by Hohepa Renata.
This unique opportunity is central to a kaupapa Māori approach acknowledging student success and whānau support in an authentically Māori space.
Māori Student Representative, Irene Eva Farnham (Ngā Tūhoe) says “Kahurangi is an aspirational event, which has inspired many tauira to stick at it and reach that finish line. While it acknowledges the learner, it also provides the student the opportunity to acknowledge their whānau who have supported them on their learning journey.”
Director of Ngā Wai a Te Tūī Māori and Indigenous Research Centre, Doctor Jenny Lee-Morgan kicked off celebrations with an acknowledgement to students, staff, whānau and friends.
“Our Māori students would have faced multiple challenges in the course of their studies here. I want to pay special tribute to you all as graduates of a COVID-19 context that you as students have had to endure, I know it hasn’t been easy and I honour your resilience, your perseverance and your adaptation skills to complete your degrees.”
Māori graduates expressed their heartfelt thanks in emotional acceptance speeches and some whānau members performed special haka and waiata unique to the student’s iwi.
Bachelor of Business graduate Wairaka Mason (Whakatoohea, Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāi Tūhoe) was the first to receive her tāonga at this years event. She outlined the integral role staff at Unitec played in her success and the success of others.
Bachelor of Business Graduate, Wairaka Mason
“I want to give a big huge mihi to all the kaiako and programmes like Whai Ake that I’ve been a part of. They always go above and beyond with the pastoral care they provide to students. I know that many of us here wouldn’t have graduated without their help and they are constantly doing things that are not within their job contracts.”
Many graduates at Kahurangi highlighted the support they received from whānau and staff and how the struggles had helped them truly understand the value they bring to any role purely by being proud and unapologetically Māori.
Published: April 27th, 2021