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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

14 mins ago

Justine Read-Bloomfield describes her decision to study Te Reo Māori as life changing when she was at a low point inher life.
“I had a disconnect with my “taha Māori” (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Kahungungu), and Te Whatukura (Māori Studies EIT) gave me a reconnection to my past and the strength to move forward in a positive and powerful way,” she says.
“I was a home-maker first and foremost back in 2014, caring for my children and doing some volunteer work, but I had suffered several significant losses and was needing some purpose and hope in my life.

It was then that a dear friend said ‘come and reconnect to your taha Māori.’So I started the level four class in 2014.”
“I fell in love with every aspect of it. I began to rediscover my place and space in the world. It is about knowing who you truly
are and that gave me purpose ,identity and confidence.”

“I realised as Māori we had already lost so much of our language and my grandmother who passed away in 2019 was the only whānau member I had left who could speak our beautiful language.”
“It was up to me to keep the taonga of Te Reo burning. I couldn’t afford to let my children and grandchildren lose it as so many
of my family already had.”

“I realised ‘hey I’m not on my own – all my tipuna who have gone before me are with me, championing me. I realised it was time to connect for my family.”

She acknowledges her kaiako Koka Barbie (Maria) Wynyard, Koka Anglea Tibble along with Koka Nadine McKinnon, and Matua Joe Pihema and Matua Marei Norris as all being ‘extremely significant’ in her achievements.
She was due to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (Māori) this May, but the arrival of the virus COVID 19 had cancelled that ceremony.

Justine said she was impressed with the culture in Te Whatukura where there was respect and learning between the young and old.
In te ao Māori this reciprocity is often referred to as ‘tuakana teina’ relationships.

Everyone helps and encourages one another, we all lift one another up.“It’s a real family and a nurturing atmosphere. I loved my time there, it was life changing!”

A solo mother of five children, she is grateful her youngest son will be immersed in Te Reo, he attends Te Putake Whakatupuranga
Kohanga Reo and next year will attend Ngā Uri a Maui kura.
“He is better than me though,” she laughs.

Now Justine is able to use her life and Te Reo Māori skills in her new student liason role.
“I was stoked to get this job. It was my proudest moment to go into Work and Income New Zealand and say ‘take me off your books’.”

Her main role involves interacting with students and careers advisors to work out future pathways and that isn’t limited to just our young people. Although they are a huge focus. “Students of all ages will find value and life skills at EIT. We offer so many opportunities for people at every age and stage. Having been a student here so recently, I can add the value for them.”
The wrap around care given by EIT Tairāwhiti impressed her. “There was so much love and support. It was uplifting.”
She hopes to inspire both young and older potential students.
“You are not too young and you are not too old to be your best self and build your best life. Iti rearea, teitei kahikatea ka taea” the bellbird may be small but is able to reach the lofty heights of the tallest kahikatea tree.”
“This whakatauki (Māori proverb) encourages you to never disqualify yourself.”
For achieving greatness, don’t look at your obstacles or limitations whatever you perceive them to be, let them be your stepping-stones to achieve greatness.”