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Maori Student Explores Her Ancestral Roots

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Maori Student Explores Her Ancestral Roots

Rosie Dennis launched into a journey of self-discovery after visiting EIT’s Te Manga Maori.

Accompanying her sister, who was enrolled in a programme offered through the Faculty of Maori Studies, Rosie experienced an epiphany.

“I felt such warmth from the students – I was intrigued by the kappa haka and how united they were. I felt a strong pull to learn everything about my Maori heritage and I haven’t looked back,” she says.

“It wasn’t me who chose the reo, rather than the reo chose me.”

Rosie started with certificate-level studies and progressed last year to a Bachelor of Arts (Maori). Her aim is a career in primary school teaching or journalism.

“I would love to work for Maori TV,” she says. “I am also very technical, so that could be behind a camera.”

Rosie’s study journey is about much more than the qualification, however. At some time in the future she would like to be fully immersed in Te Ao Maori.

“I want to bring my children up surrounded by this and do my part to uplift and preserve our beautiful language and culture. I would also like to look into ways of getting young people into learning the way of our ancestors.”

Rosie traces her Ngati Porou lineage through her father Ron Dennis, who gained his Bachelor of Arts (Maori)(Hons) at EIT.

Living in Hastings, the Dennis family regularly visit the home marae in Tairawhiti. While Ron, a lecturer at Te Manga Maori, has never put Rosie under pressure to explore her heritage further, she says “he is glad I’m doing it”.

The 20-year-old enjoys the mix of ages in her degree cohort.

“The mature students bring particular qualities to the dynamic while the younger ones have the energy and encourage those who don’t have a lot of self-belief.”

For Rosie, the concept of family extends to all those associated with Te Uranga Waka – EIT’s recently opened Maori studies building.

“Family is of great importance to me,” she says. “Without their constant support, love and encouragement, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”


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