Tue 9 Oct 2018

Maori excel in business admin

When all four Māori students who made up a third of WITT’s New Zealand Certificate in Business (Administration and Technology) Level 4 passed, it was no coincidence.

“Our first priority for us as a tutor is to learn about students’ history and expectations,” tutor Mary-Ellen Bachelor said.

There is also an emphasis on Māori values and students are encouraged to come up with their own values and help each other. The classes adopt a tuakana-teina relationship, a “buddy” system where roles can be interchangeable.

“It’s important we as tutors learn history, heritage and about whānau because while we might be teaching an individual, we can’t view that student in isolation from his or her family and network,” she said.

When kaitakawaenga  (Māori  liaison staff) held a national conference at WITT last year its theme was lifting course completion rates for Maori.

WITT’s own kaitakawaenga Allana Prestney spoke at the time of the importance of students being able to communicate well with tutors. She said students who received no help when they had personal issues or struggled with the learning were destined to fail.

Ash Keoghan, one of those four successful Māori students said the assistance given to Māori and Pasifika students was significant at WITT.

Ash is an uri (descendant) of Nga Puhi iwi and her marae Kohewhata is in Kaikohe.

“The tutors got me through the course – they were amazing, and they knew our strengths and weaknesses.”

Ash’s own journey has been an eventful one.

She was a mum at 17 living in Auckland and decided to put herself through “chef school”. That resulted in a Diploma in Culinary Skills. She worked as a chef at the Sudima Hotel near Auckland Airport, then decided it was time for a major change.

“I moved down to Taranaki for work and lifestyle opportunities.”

A job opportunity came up and she worked as head chef at Eden Cafe and Restaurant in Bell Block, then decided to enrol at WITT in a business course, progressing through the levels until she completed the Level Four course at the end of the first semester.

Ash has been in the job market for business and administration work since completing her course at WITT and in the meantime is helping her equally enterprising daughter Leilani with a fledgeling business.

Leilani, 13, runs a donut company – Lei’s Lil Donuts - with the help of her mum in Taranaki, and her grandmother Angela in Auckland.