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New Poutuara weaving Mātauranga Māori through EIT

Michelle Lee feels that the strands of her diverse career are bound together in Mātauranga Māori and this is what she brings to her new role at EIT.

As inaugural Poutuara (assistant head of school) of Te Ūranga Waka and Te Whatukura, when asked about a future vision, Michelle doesn’t hold with the policy of ‘new broom sweeps clean’. Instead her approach is to analyse what is successful and do more of it.

“Identify the good stuff and spread it further,” is her view. “I will look to support what is already happening well with a fresh perspective, both here and at the Tairāwhiti campus in Gisborne.”

With a Masters of Art and Design, her research focus has been her trans-media art practice and eLearning design. Expanding research, embedding online learning and helping weave Mātauranga Māori through all EIT courses are a few of her initial goals.

“I’ll be reaching out, looking at partnerships and opportunities to be innovative.”

Originally trained as a teacher, Michelle has had a variety of roles including lecturing at several institutes of technology and polytechnics, universities and within the New Zealand health sector.

During her time at Unitec, Michelle progressed from lecturer to Kaihautū Mātauranga Māori, responsible for embedding Māori pedagogy across the institute.

Of Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Waewae, Kāti Mamoe, Ngāti Kahungunu, Waitaha, Ngāti Rurua descent, Michelle and her husband arrived in Hawke’s Bay in mid-2017.

Before joining EIT, she worked at MTG as curator of Taonga Māori, which as a globally significant collection should be championed more, Michelle believes. “It was an incredible honour to work with our people’s taonga and a wonderful entrance into being here in Hawke’s Bay.”



For the last seven years, Michelle has also run her own television and trans-media production company, Kapu Ti Productions Limited. Travelling around Aotearoa filming her Māori language shows provided the opportunity to explore ‘where to next’.

Both she and her husband were raised semi-rurally and were looking to return to the values and aspirations that they were brought up with.

“Hawke’s Bay called to us as a place we could make home. We are deeply grateful to the beautiful manaakitanga that Ngāti Kahungunu is notorious for. Having experienced that first-hand we’ve felt embraced and valued.”


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