Lilly Eckhold and Kiliona Tamati-Tupa’i are in their first year at UC after graduating from kura kaupapa Māori immersion schools last year.
Kura kaupapa Māori are Māori-language immersion schools that are committed to revitalising Māori language and the philosophy, practices and values of Māori culture. In July last year there were more than 22,000 students enrolled in Māori-medium education in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Lilly (Ngāi Tahu, Waikato) says it’s a big adjustment coming to a large institution from a kura kaupapa in Tāmaki-makau-rau Auckland.
“Having to wrap my head around mainstream education and the language has been a bit of a bumpy road. I’m enjoying it, but it’s challenging. This is what us kura kids have to open up to when we join mainstream education. There is a culture change there, but I’ve been sticking close to my mates and getting support from UC staff.”
Lilly is motivated by her family and being the first to enrol at university. “If I was to let myself down, I’d also be letting my family down too so that’s giving me the urge to push forward. I wouldn’t want them to be disappointed with me.”
She chose to come to Ōtautahi Christchurch to be closer to extended family here, while also living away from home. She’s studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce and wants to work in multicultural events management when she graduates.
Kiliona Tamati-Tupa’i (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Te Ātiawa, Samoa) is studying towards a Bachelor of Science (BSc) after graduating from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whānau Tahi last year. He says regular workshops held at the kura by UC staff in the last few terms of school smoothed the transition to university.
“There were a lot of us who weren’t even thinking about going to university but now the majority of my class from last year are studying at a tertiary institution – with four of us here at UC.”
Kiliona, who received the 2020 Top Subject Scholarship Award for Te Reo Rangatira from NZQA, says there are advantages in being from a kura kaupapa background. “There’s the cultural perspective that we bring, and that’s something I think has been a real advantage for me, and of course, the fact that we’re bilingual. I’m studying Environmental Sciences and even though I’ve grown up in cities there are a lot of things I can relate to because of my connections to my marae and my papakāika [ancestral home].”
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