Fri 28 Jun 2019

Haere Mai

A day shy of the 11th anniversary of the opening of WITT’s marae, Te Piere, it was the venue for an innovative gathering this morning

Twelve international students – 10 from India and two from Sri Lanka – began their two-year WITT journey as cookery students by being welcomed with a powhiri where they were given their first formal taste of tikanga Māori, and  met their tutors and support staff.

It would be fair to say the international students were clearly entering unknown territory – there were some unconventional hongi, some direction was needed to show where they should sit, and a neutral observer would have noted that New Zealand English is so peppered with te reo that many visiting listener would be left puzzled.

But between being told things were kapai and what the korero was about, there’s no doubt the international students were given a more complete immersion into WITT than their predecessors.

International student liaison officer Robyn Harvey was involved in the organisation of the powhiri – which morphed from being a simple whakatau – and was delighted with it.

“I think it is something we should now do for all our international students – we are not simply enrolling them at WITT, we are welcoming them to New Zealand,” she said.

International students who arrive outside the normal intake periods miss the full formal welcomes WITT hosts twice a year.

Kaitakawaenga Allana Prestney welcomed the students into Te Piere, and they then heard in te reo, welcomes from Chaplain Tuari Reweti and Māori tutor Bernie Edwards.

Several of their tutors also stood to welcome their new students, and Student Support Services Director Zanetta Hinton emphasised the help which WITT had on tap.

The students were applauded for their courage in travelling to New Zealand to learn.

Tuari said he was privileged to welcome them.

“This is the right way to enter Aotearoa, Taranaki and WITT,” he said.

“I can only imagine the pressure on me if I travelled so far to learn – it’s important for you to know that there are people here to help when things are not going well.”