Graduation SuccessBy Mereana Selby November 2012
Te Rā Whakapūmau
There is no bigger day on the calendar year for us here at Te Wānanga o Raukawa than Te Rā Whakapūmau, our graduation day. It is an occasion for the founding iwi known as The Art Confederation (Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Raukawa and Te Atiawa) to invite graduands to return to Te Wānanga o Raukawa to receive their tohu (qualification) and celebrate their success with peers, staff and most importantly their whānau members.
This year Te Rā Whakapūmau will be held on Saturday 8th December and will be attended by between 2000-3000 graduands, whānau and supporters. Many will spend days travelling from all over Aotearoa in support of their loved ones.
The days and weeks leading up to graduation see a buzz of activity here on campus. The entire event is organised and managed by staff. A huge marquee is erected and the stage set. Staff are transformed into parking wardens, event co-ordinators, stall managers and kapa haka performers; others are in charge of lunch packs and activities for our tamariki and the kitchen staff suddenly trebles in size.
The morning itself is set in motion with welcome karanga very ably led by our treasured kuia, Aunty Margaret Davis. Ahorangi, Iwikātea Nicholson opens the day with karakia. The stage is taken by Ngā Purutanga Mauri (kaumātua of The ART Confederation who are our senior scholars and advisers) who play a vital role in the days proceedings. These esteemed kaumātua will mihi to each and every graduand crossing the stage, presenting and endorsing all tohu for the year. The presence and mana of Ngā Purutanga Mauri is crucial to the day’s success and we are always very grateful for their contribution.
A major expectation here at Te Wānanga o Raukawa is that students will reconnect with their kaumātua, study the history and kōrero of their iwi and hapū, and strengthen their connections to their marae. As a result the educational journey is a very emotional and a very personal one. However, for our students and their whānau it can be life changing, it can be emancipatory.
As each graduand crosses the stage they are acutely aware that their success is a shared one. Whānau and friends perform rousing haka and waiata tautoko continuously throughout the day in a show of support and of pride. It is a spectacular sight and reaffirms the notion that these successes are shared and belong to whānau, hapū and iwi.
Te Rā Whakapūmau is my favourite day of the year. There is no other time that I find our kaupapa and our tikanga so palpable and our mauri or life force so energised. The educational successes we celebrate each year are an important way in which we are reclaiming our knowledge and our tikanga to ensure our survival as a people. It is further proof that our desire for tino rangatiratanga, to determine our own destinies for ourselves and generations to come is alive and well.
I look forward to being a part of another positive and uniquely Māori graduation this year and mihi to all of our students, their whānau and our staff here at Te Wānanga o Raukawa who are contributing to Te Rā Whakapūmau 2013 to ensure it is one enjoyed by all.
Nāku i roto i ngā mihi,
Mereana Selby, Tumuaki
Note: Te Wānanga o Raukawa welcomes all members of our community to join us for Te Rā Whakapūmau. There will be stalls selling kai, artworks and merchandise, activities and fun for tamariki along with evening entertainment. Please note we are a strictly smoke and alcohol free campus.