Jecheala | Mt Roskill, Auckland
“It probably actually happened yesterday. I go to Unitec here, and part of our assessment was we all went to a marae, and shared a pepeha, which is a Māori introduction.
Coming from Māori ancestry, it was something that could relate to me, but I was more shocked and grateful that other classmates of different cultures were taking on my culture and being able to see them replicate that in a respectful way, but also seeing them grow from that experience, as well. I think being able to share the Māori culture, the indigenous culture of New Zealand and having people appreciate it, just as much as I do, was very enlightening and heart-warming for me. It teaches me that there is a willingness to share cultures here in New Zealand not just for people learning Māori, but for me, learning other cultures.
So with my culture, I actually grew up with my Samoan side. So, I’m half Samoan, half Māori, and I didn’t actually start discovering my Māori until late last year. So that’s been an individual journey for me, but a journey that I definitely don’t regret and a journey that I’m definitely still on. I think a big saying for me is tuhia ki te rangi, tuhia ki te whenua, which is kind of ‘write it in the sky, write it in the land’, and it’s just about making sure that we’re almost imprinting and taking our culture and ourselves everywhere we go. Culture is something that always is developing. It’s not something that you stop. It’s definitely a journey in embracing language, morals and all that kind of stuff, as well.
So I actually grew up in um, Paraparaumu, which is just on the outside of Wellington. My dad’s family is from there. So I grew up there and came to Auckland very early in my life, around maybe three. So, I did all my schooling in Auckland. I went to a West Auckland school, and started building foundations and relationships within these areas, and now, I’m here at Unitec.”