Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi graduation


Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi graduation

Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae, Whakatāne


It's a privilege to be invited to speak to you today.

We have faced many challenges in the past 12 months with COVID-19 turning our lives upside down.

You have learned to find new ways of working in the face of mounting pressure and changes, and I’m proud to be here with you to celebrate your successes despite these disruptions.

It was disappointing that your graduation ceremony last year had to be cancelled, so it is a real pleasure to be celebrating here with you today.

I am also aware of the huge role that Awanuiārangi has played in supporting the community through other events here in Whakatāne – opening your door to host emergency workers and whānau at the Noho Centre following the eruption at Whakaari, and hosting tauira and kaimahi from Apanui School following the fire there.

The role Awanuiārangi plays in supporting the local community is part of what makes this wānanga a unique part of the tertiary education landscape.

While the past 12 months haven’t been easy, the fact we are here today is a testament to both you and your whānau.

You are examples of the success that Māori pathways of learning can lead to.

As Māori we all know the inequities that have continued over the years.

We’re trying to leave that behind in the rear view mirror and instead turn our attention to the opportunities that exist in some of the shifts now underway.

The move to teach Māori history in all schools and kura by 2022 is a good example.

We’ve seen the effects of years of neglecting to tell our stories in the classroom.

So, now up and down the country, iwi, hapū, whānau and communities are rooting out those historical narratives to turn our world back up the right way again.

We've also made it easier for teachers to learn everyday reo Māori, so our language is more commonplace in the classroom, and we've introduced anti-racism programmes in schools and communities around the country. 

Maihi Karauna, the Crown’s strategy for Māori language revitalisation, sets a bold vision for te reo Māori, and a goal that by 2040, one million New Zealanders will have the ability and confidence to kōrero basic reo Māori.

Awanuiārangi plays a big part in delivering on that ambition – delivering te reo courses to over 1,000 learners in 2019.

You are all part of this success story – and as graduates of Awanuiārangi, you have been empowered to advance your understanding of mātauranga Māori and embrace your connections to te ao Māori, with Māori āhuatanga and tikanga guiding your journeys.

Awanuiārangi is known for its strong higher degree and research focus. Your learning here has connected you to academic Māori knowledge and those who hold it.

This institution was built by Māori leaders to legitimise academic indigenous knowledge. You can now apply this knowledge for solutions that are innovative and lasting.

The graduates of Awanuiārangi include Māori, non-Māori, international students, and students of all ages. Your cohort is diverse, culturally competent and able to apply indigenous problem solving.

As graduates, you are keen and ready to make significant contributions to the success and wellbeing of your whānau, hapū, iwi and communities. Awanuiārangi exemplifies the goals and expectations we have for the tertiary sector.

Once again, congratulations; all the best for the pathways ahead of you.