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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

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EIT Auckland Students outside Tangatarua Marae at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

Engaging in New Zealand cultural experiences forms an invaluable part of the international student journey. To support this, students get to experience a traditional Māori welcome at a marae during their time at EIT. This semester, EIT Auckland decided to travel further afield and organised a visit to Tangatarua Marae at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua.

After an early start, over 90 students and staff left Auckland aboard two coaches bound for Rotorua on Monday 10 August. Many students were excited as it was their first trip away from Auckland and the buses were quickly filled with the sound of music as they practised singing a Waiata.

Following a quick stop at Matamata, the group arrived at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua just before midday. Everyone waited patiently for entry to the marae, with their shoes off and received a warm welcome from the staff and students at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Students and staff also received blessings and hongi from their hosts as a symbol of unity.

Inside the marae, EIT Auckland students, Sanjay Maherchandani and Muddassar Khot represented the group as Rangatira expressing gratefulness to staff and students at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

“It was an honour; a treasured experience. For me personally it was very touching and a moment of pride when I spoke as the Rangatira for our group at Toi Ohomai. It makes me proud that I did apt justice to the role.” said Sanjay.

Visiting the marae was a wonderful and unique experience. Students were taught that every Māori has a marae where they belong and where Māori values and customs are preserved. Students learnt about kawa and experienced a pōwhiri first-hand. It was a great opportunity for staff and students at EIT Auckland and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology to share this special experience.

After singing a beautiful Waiata together, the group enjoyed a delicious lunch and went on a sightseeing tour around Rotorua city centre and explored Lake Rotorua and Rotorua Government Gardens. The students and staff had a fantastic time and are looking forward to another opportunity to go back and visit this special part of New Zealand.