Graduating - At Any Age
Column published in the Northland Age on 29 July 2008
Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau
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GRADUATING – AT ANY AGE
A couple of months back I wrote an article about Te Wananga o Aotearoa, and the struggle they’ve had to keep it afloat. Well, last week I attended one of the many graduation ceremonies that the wananga hosts all round the country every six months.
I missed the one in Kaitaia but I heard it went off really well, so big-ups to all those who graduated with Tohu Matauranga, Te Ara Reo Maori and the business courses.
And a particular congratulations to the wildly successful graduates of the Certificate in Te Arataki Manu Korero, because this group has a very special history.
Reuben Murray came back to the north a few years back, and started a gym. Now Reuben’s no spring chicken, so I wondered whether it would really take off, but take off it did, and one of the special features of Reuben’s gym was the line-up of kaumatua and kuia traipsing down to Reuben’s gym to get fit – so many in fact that Reuben had to give them their own key because they were turning up before 5am to get an early start!
Anyway, after a couple of years, Waireti Walters asked if I could get some help for these kaumatua and kuia to do some of the things they wanted to do, so I turned to the only crowd I could think of who might have something going for them – Te Wananga o Aotearoa – and they didn’t let me down.
Te Arataki Manu Korero is a programme specifically designed to help kaumatua and kuia reignite their knowledge of reo and tikanga. Waireti hooked up the wananga with the kaumatua and kuia, Reuben Murray and his wife Beulah took up the challenge to run the course along with their work at the gym, and last Friday nearly 30 graduated with pride and distinction.
That group of kaumatua and kuia, Kia Maia, have become a hugely positive and energetic influence in the far north – a real role model for other older people and a joy to be around.
So thank you to the wananga for again proving that you can be relied on to reconnect Maori to education at any age.
And as for that Reuben – well, I was down his gym a while back and somebody said to me “Gee that Reuben looks great! I hope I look that good when I get to his age” to which I could only reply “bruddah – I wish I looked that good at my age!” Thanks Reuben, for giving our kaumatua and kuia a new lease on life.
Tai Tokerau MP