Showing respect to her ancestors was the motivation for Sara Gatenby (Ngāi Tahu) (pictured right with kaiako Heather Mareikura) to open the door to tertiary study.
“I wanted to pronounce my ancestors’ names properly and got so much more. Speaking from my heart, study has given me so much,” she says.
Sara enrolled in the New Zealand Certificate in Te Reo Māori (Rumaki, Reo Rua) (Level 1) last year and is now part way through the level 2 programme with tutor Heather Mareikura based at the WITT Te Pūkenga Hāwera campus.
“I fell in love. Studying has given me a massive sense of community and learning te reo has created a sense of belonging for me and family – I’ve had so much support, it’s a beautiful community to be part of.”
As Sara’s son entered his teenage years, she knew the time was right for her to focus on her own future. The last time she studied was after finishing her secondary schooling at Opunake High School when she studied adventure tourism with the YMCA.
She says getting back to her roots has given her direction for the future and a sense of purpose.
“It’s not just the reo, it’s the tikanga, the way of life,” she says.
She says adult learning is hard and she’s grateful for the support she’s had, from Nikki the careers advisor to tutors, online counsellors and the kaimahi in Hāwera.
“Adult learning is really hard, I could not do it without all the support I’ve had.”
On top of her learning commitments, Sara is also a student leader, representing her fellow ākonga.
“Being a student leader gives me the opportunity to work in a team – I’m a voice at the table, sharing ideas and learning the give and take of a meeting.”
This time next year Sara would like to be part way through the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) (Level 4) with an eye to working in the mental health field.
“I want my forever job to make a difference.”