Bachelor of Māori Language and Indigenous Studies – Ihu Puta 2017
Te Ao Mārama (Jodi) was a team leader and facilitator for youth adventure therapy programmes when the urge to learn about his language and culture motivated him to enrol in the Bachelor of Māori Language and Indigenous Studies at Ara.
He could see the potential in connecting Te Reo and Māori philosophy with the environment to engage youth.
“When I was working in adventure therapy, we would go outside into the taiao and interact. We’d use the environment to help process our understandings about everyday things - from how to communicate through to building up resilience - and we’d find the natural world just makes it happen. Having a Māori focus brings with it pūrākau in terms of young people understanding their own whakapapa.”
Jodi’s degree programme also gave him the opportunity to strengthen ties with his father’s history and begin a journey of self-discovery. “I’m literally able to kōrero to my father now,” Jodi says. “Over the past few months I’ve talked to him the most I’ve ever talked to him.”
Jodi says his time at Te Puna Wānaka has really come down to the people. “Some of the hardest times in terms of the relational stuff have actually been the most stand-out times, because you realise how important those relationships and those people are. You realise that, like myself, if you’re at the other end of the country away from your tūrangawaewae, those relationships get transferred to this place, and you want to live the tikanga. You realise those relationships are important to help make that home feeling be alive.”
Jodi believes tikanga is vital to understanding your reo. “Seeing it in practice helps it become real. That’s been a highlight for me - how the kaiako teach, the range of learning styles catered to while at the core of it whanaungatanga is created.”
“To be an academic is much more achievable now, I’ve always had a belief that practice outweighs theory or academia but from being in this place I’ve realised that they actually converge and criss-cross. Now I can see that if there were any possibilities for more opportunities in academia in the future, I see no reason as to why I wouldn’t pursue them.”
Jodi now works as a community support worker helping young and old affected by mental illness or addiction. In this role he draws on his previous work and life experiences and combines them with his learnings from the degree and within his language to provide responsive support.
Jodi’s main aspirations for his language focus on his child. “I hope the time comes when he may be at a level where he corrects me in any errors in my reo.”