The strength of whakawhanaungatanga

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Feeling nervous, uncertain and experiencing doubt are normal emotions people experience as they make changes and try new things. The Kaitakawaenga Team at WITT Te Pūkenga know these are the feelings that can stop people turning up on their first day of class so they reach out to ākonga to help ease their start at WITT. 

“Whakawhanaungatanga, forming relationships, is the key to building trust with new or nervous ākonga and their whānau,” says WITT Te Pūkenga Kaitakawaenga Māori and Pasifika Team Leader Allana Prestney.

And relationships are what the Kaitakawaenga team do well. At the start of each semester, the small team get in contact with all Māori and Pasifika ākonga before classes start and meet with them one-on-one. The team take ākonga and whānau on campus tours, introducing them to key kaimahi relevant to their programme and set them up with practical things like ID Cards, access to the MyWITT app and deal with any StudyLink or scholarship queries to smooth their start to tertiary training.

“We can do so much to help ākonga feel settled and sure of their decision to study at our kura from just that one meeting,” she says.

Investing time upfront helps create the right environment for learning and will help prevent ākonga from withdrawing from study or not seeing through their programmes.

“We want every ākonga who sets foot on campus to have the best chance of succeeding and meeting their ambitions and that starts with feeling like they belong – to Kopa Manaaki, their programme and our kura.”

The team also help ākonga with belonging to the wider world outside WITT Te Pūkenga too.

Allana and her team support ākonga to discover and register with their iwi if they are interested.

“We talk about the importance of knowing iwi connections and how it enhances our people and helps them to believe they can achieve.”

If you are considering tertiary study for 2024 or enrolled but feeling nervous, find out more about the Kaitakawaenga Team and how they can help.

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