From a very young age, Tāmara Rochford Kerr was passionate about education. But it wasn’t until she visited her family marae for the first time that her passion for Te Reo education was sparked.
“It happened as soon as my feet touched the whenua,” she explains. “I was yet to reach double digits, when my brother and I called my mum aside on the marae and asked her how she could have kept us from from our language, culture, history and – more importantly – our home. From that moment I knew that’s what I wanted to learn about. Ever since then I’ve navigated myself into spaces which I think will allow me to grow in this area.”
One of those places was Rangiora High School, where she sat her NCEA papers in Te Reo. Another was Te Puna Wānaka at Ara. "I chose Te Puna Wānaka because it’s grounded in Māori values and it executes this profoundly. It’s led by a whare full of humble Māori leaders who have an exceptionally wide range of skills enabling them to flow comfortably through the Māori and Pākeha worlds.”
At Te Puna Wānaka, Tāmara studied the Bachelor of Māori Language and Indigenous Studies, an experience she describes as empowering. “The experience as a whole completely shaped me,” she says. "When you enrol, you don’t enrol in any normal programme, you sign up to a family. It seemed to be a holistic approach and it worked. You don’t just learn the culture, you learn through the culture”.
Tāmara was a top student, gaining the Department of Humanities Supreme Student Award in both 2014 and 2016, and the Te Puna Wānaka Top Student award in 2016.
Since gaining her degree, she’s returned to Rangiora High School – this time as a member of staff in a newly created role designed to assist with Māori achievement. She believes her degree has prepared her well. “It taught me about strategy, planning, language, culture, history and the arts, but most importantly, it taught me about key values in life such as manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga, ahurutanga and aroha. Those skills trump any academic tool and they can be applied in any field of work.”
Learn more about our Bachelor of Māori Language and Indigenous Studies (Te Ohoka).