Few Kāpiti people know that probably the most important teaching institution in the District is the Māori university — Te Wānanga o Raukawa – at Ōtaki.
Te Wānanga gives work to more than 200 staff, making it one of the district’s main employers. And it has no fewer than 2,000 students from every corner of New Zealand.
The Tumuaki of the Wānanga, Mereana Selby, has graciously agreed that the institution will contribute regularly to the Kāpiti Independent and we’re proud this Easter weekend to bring you this report from Ōtaki.
One Wānanga founded by three Iwi
Te Wānanga o Raukawa was established by the Raukawa Marae Trustees, a group representing the three iwi of Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Toa Rangatira known as the ART confederation.
As part of the Whakatupuranga Rua Mano plan, it set out to provide a centre of higher learning for the people of the three iwi and others.
Reversing the ‘downward trajectory’
It was one of a number of strategies designed to reverse the downward trajectory that our people had been on for many decades with regard to language maintenance, cultural capacity, health, education, employment and so on.
Te Wānanga o Raukawa is thirty years old, is based in Otaki and has some twenty six sites throughout the country. The wānanga is a tertiary degree awarding institution offering predominantly undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study.
The Tumuaki, Mereana Selby says, “We regard our key purpose as that
of maximising our contribution to the survival, wellness and advancement of Māori as a people.
“The tikanga Māori wānanga seeks to give expression to kaupapa tuku iho in the provision of a wide range of quality education programmes, predominantly at undergraduate and post-graduate degree level.”
‘More than just educating Māori’
“More than just educating Māori, the wānanga wishes to produce graduates who are Māori in the way they think, act and behave. It is the Māori mind we wish to nurture and develop.
“:To this end we have maintained our focus on Te Reo and Iwi and Hāpu studies as compulsory components of our academic model, and look to assess our activities against kaupapa.”
“It is our intent that expression of kaupapa is implicit in all we do, however, while we are still in experimental phase and regard ourselves as a laboratory; there remains a need to be explicit about the presence of kaupapa.”
Most staff live and work in Otaki
Te Wānanga o Raukawa has a staffing level of 202 with the majority of staff living in Otaki. It seeks to offer employment to people of the ART Confederation with suitable qualifications. In the other sites, people from the local iwi and hapū are, in the main, employed to run the programmes.
Of a student base of approximately 2000 per annum, 98% are Māori from across Aotearoa and are predominately women with a 70/30% split. 30% of our students are under 25 years of age and 25% are part time students.
The wānanga intends to continue exploring how and what to offer in supporting its stated task of maximising its contribution to the survival, wellness and advancement of Māori as a people.
This is demonstrated with the opening, in February, of Ngā Purapura, a purpose built facility, designed to promote health and wellness and to which the public are invited to participate.