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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

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For Turei Kire, studying during lockdown had been an adaptive process. After residing at his grandparents’ house throughout this time, the 23-year-old Diploma in Music student had set up a little music studio in his own cabin. As Turei expressed, “IDEAschool has provided us with computers, microphones, keyboards, head phones and speakers. The support and the amount of opportunities that EIT provide have been amazing.”

During lockdown, Turei composed and recorded “Toitu te Whenua”, his EIT singles project. The ambience-styled song showcases his exceptional voice and guitar skills but is also an effort to channel his inner peace during such uncertainty. “The beat depicts the heartbeat of Mother Earth, it’s a meditative kind of pulse, and it’s also an acknowledgement to the welcoming of Matariki and the arrival of the Māori New Year in June,” Turei says.

Turei willingly expressed his passion for music throughout his childhood and youth. When he was eight years old, his father passed away and Turei moved to Hamilton to live with his aunty. That’s where his passion for music really developed. He got piano lessons, entered in dance competitions and did gymnastics. Five years later, he moved back to Hawke’s Bay and attended Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga. Straight away, Turei was put up one year and it’s fair to say that his teachers nurtured his creative talents.

“In fact, school became like a second home for most of us. I loved it. My uncle and aunty were my kapa haka tutors and allowed me and others to be a part of the creative process. They exposed us to our Māori world. Our teachers prepared us to pursue our dreams. They also reminded us of our responsibility to keep Māori culture and language alive but to integrate those qualities in the real world as well.”

In 2015, Turei started a Bachelor of Music at Waikato University. “I wanted a new start but in my second year of studies I hit a road block and returned back home to Hawke’s Bay.” He began to work as a Kaiāwhina at his old kura. During this time, he completed a Bachelor of Māori Performing Arts at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, adding also a Diploma in Teaching gained at Te Wānanga o Raukawa. “At this point I had to seriously think about what career I want to pursue. My short-term goal is to teach music, my long-term goal however, is to work as a performing arts director.” After discussing with EIT staff, he was adamant that the Diploma in Music would add value to his existing knowledge and skills.

“In the beginning stages, I really struggled with comparing myself to my peers. I came from a full immersion Māori educational background, and I felt that I had to change to fit in.” However, the emotional support from his tutors and peers has helped him overcome some difficulties. “They told us at the beginning of the year that our stories and our backgrounds make us as performing artists unique and authentic. That really helped me,” says Turei. “Now I feel that this environment of individuality, uniqueness, diverse perspectives and opinions inspires me to strive, ever more.”

The students also had to create a career plan thinking about their goals, equipment, creative spaces, funding and their influencers. Turei believes, “Planning is key to actioning a goal. So this career plan is a real turning point of adding value to an artist’s perspective.” It also helped him persevere during the first weeks of lockdown when he was struggling with the new situation. So, to wind down, Turei reads, listens to podcasts, writes in his journal, spends time with friends and family and goes for walks. “Composing in such confined spaces can be really draining, so spending time in nature is really therapeutic.”