Noho Ora Mai, Waipapa Marae! [F]

Kia ora, Tuākana! The writing wānanga workshop finished yesterday and I am proud to say that I actually managed to get work done, more than I had the entire week before this. No television and an extremely weak/nonexistent WiFi connection helped in my progression, but what it really came down to was the encouraging environment that the organizers established, and the vibe of willingness to learn and get a long with each other that the other students who came, helped create and maintain.

Waipapa Marae - University of Auckland

I arrived a few minutes after nine Monday morning and met with the rest of the group in the wharekai, which is the dining room of the Marae, a separate building from the wharenui. Three boys, 15-20 girls. We sang the national anthem for our mihi (formal greeting) in the wharenui, then played a fun activity and met each other.

The rest of the day was structured like the others; breakfast, fun activity, general academic writing workshop, private or group study or mentoring, lunch, fun activity, study, study, study, dinner & desert, return to study until finally, bedtime around ten at night. Bedtime for some anyway, I met a girl who was faithful to her internal clock and wouldn’t/couldn’t sleep until after midnight. We swapped iPods one night which was cool. I tried staying up with her but I bailed/face planted into the table. She had an eclectic assortment of tunes on her 180GB iPod classic that I had never heard before. This is the one I liked the most though: Paramore “Ain’t It Fun”

Catchy melody. More students showed up including several more boys the following day which didn’t change my approach to fun activities or meeting people, I guess one could say, if there was an award given for most reserved, my name would be engraved on the plaque. I felt slightly homesick and alienated from being surrounded by lots of people whose cultural heritage hadn’t been completely assimilated living in NZ and who made new friends easy, if that makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, I step out of my comfort zone all the time and love what I learn from doing so, but trying to hide that social anxiety and be one with a group is hard for me, probably why I studied so much these past few days. The wānanga was good for me. For one of my papers, I was struggling to understand the genealogy of majoritarian representative democracy and whether our obligation to obey the state’s laws required our consent. I’m getting a headache from just thinking about it. It’s easy to get confused because the answer is more philosophical than it is a concrete fact. I’m going to wind down and concentrate on something new for a day because I am truly studied out.

The Marae, Waipapa, and the Department of Māori Studies encouraged focus and provided an ideal getaway from the influences of the outside world. Mad props to Sereana Patterson, the Undergraduate Equity Co-ordinator, for her organization skills and for keeping me in the loop. Big thanks to the great team of outgoing and knowledgeable Tuākana mentors (experienced post grad students), all corresponding wānanga supporters, John the chef and his helpers and all you lovely students who greeted me by name, which was all of you surprisingly. Lots of smiles 😀 This was a community event and in a community you don’t feel like a number. The University of Auckland is great, but a programme like Tuākana can offer more for students than any facility alone can. Cheers.

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~ by Fionnlagh on September 12, 2013.

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