Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti
12 mins ago
Parekura Rohe-Belmont has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Honours (Māori). She was also selected as valedictorian for one of this year’s ceremonies. So, as the ceremonies were cancelled due to Covid-19, this is Parekura’s story. So, as the ceremonies were cancelled due to virus outbreak, this is Parekura’s story.
Parekura was raised on her marae, Te Rauhina in Te Wairoa. In 1995 she moved to Napier to study at EIT. “Leaving Wairoa was huge. I came down as a 19-year-old not really knowing what to expect,” she remembers.
Every Monday, Parekura travelled to Napier and on Fridays she returned back home. “I loved studying. It was a full immersion class and my classmates were fluent speakers already. Looking back, I’m so glad I did it. EIT became another home for me. EIT’s marae is so much more than an institute marae. I even got married in the whare.”
Parekura graduated from a four-year Māori studies programme after only two years in 1996. The following year, having impressed the senior staff, Parekura was employed as a tutor. Currently she teaches on the final year of the Bachelor of Arts (Māori).
She also teaches at various Kahungunu wānanga and in 2019 won Te Ahorangi o te Kupu (a Ngāti Kahungunu teaching award). Parekura says she has a close connection to many her former students. “As a tutor you get to celebrate success, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Every year I have new, awesome students with new ideas and questions, it’s like a clean slate. It’s never the same.”
Parekura is considered a champion of te reo and tikanga Māori in Ngāti Kahungunu, and nationally as a teacher, performer and composer of waiata and haka. Next year her group, Mātangirau, will compete on behalf of Ngāti Kahungunu on the national stage at Te Matatini in Auckland.
She is also EIT’s most senior kaikaranga, a role traditionally held by kuia – women much older than her.
“Countless members of our iwi, other iwi and communities have been taught by Parekura during her teaching career. Parekura is quiet and unassuming but a fierce advocate of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga”, acknowledges Pareputiputi Nuku, Head of School for EIT’s Te Ūranga Waka (School of Māori Studies).
Parekura has two degrees, an honours degree, and is also currently completing her Masters in Māori Performing Arts. In her thesis, Parekura is exploring songs written by her tīpuna. “I’m identifying language features in the compositions, dialectal words and the little gems to pass on to the next generation.”
Parekura is firmly convinced that learning is never ending. “Graduating is just the beginning. There are always other things to you can set out doing. If I won lotto, I would just study more.”