September 21, 2023

Whakauae Winter Studentship 2023 Reflections

Whakauae Winter Studentship 2023 Reflections

Tēnā koutou. In this article, we share our experiences as members of the Whakauae Winter Studentship 2023 rōpū. We offer some of our reflections both for Whakauae going forward and for the next cohort of tauira who may continue the work of Māori health research.


Saffron Stanley

Being a member of the Whakauae Winter Studentship rōpū this year has been an eye-opening experience, in many ways. Conducting research at university is often positioned as relatively monolithic in terms of its outputs (journal articles and authoring papers), and that can come across as somewhat dull and restrictive. Working on the Winter Studentship kaupapa made me realise how much room for creativity and fluidity there is within research, particularly in its dissemination, and particularly in the field of Kaupapa Māori research.

The focus of our Winter Studentship project was Māori and politics. The importance of us producing research outputs that could reach and inform hapori Māori felt especially relevant, and reaffirmed for me what makes Kaupapa Māori-led research unique; being by Māori, with Māori, for Māori. Furthermore, getting to work with the other tauira in our rōpū who bring so much to the table, and under Tom and Tanya's supervision, highlighted how powerful it can be for multiple minds to come together under the same kaupapa. I have been consistently inspired and grounded by the rōpū and our wonderful supervisors. I am reminded of this whakataukī - Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou ka ora ai te iwi – with your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive.

It has been a privilege working on this kaupapa and I know it has fundamentally shaped my perspective on what research can look like. I hope that our joint efforts in this project may help, in some way, to contribute to thriving futures for hapori Māori. 


Ben Barton

It almost feels wrong to attempt to capture my transformative experience with Whakauae in a mere paragraph, for I believe it deserves an entire novel of its own. Joining this kaupapa, I anticipated a powerful journey, but it outshone every expectation I had. Being chosen to be a member of the first-ever Whakauae Winter Studentship rōpū was an honour that evolved into an overwhelming sense of gratitude during the three months that followed. Working alongside the most passionate, talented, and supportive individuals, my sense of gratitude deepened, as I found myself continually inspired. I was not only encouraged but also pushed beyond the boundaries of what I believed I could achieve. This newfound confidence became my guiding force, allowing me to explore the depths of my potential during this project. Little did I anticipate that the journey would lead me to be involved in the creation of a card game!

Throughout my time with Whakauae, my academic knowledge has flourished. The most significant growth however occurred within my deepening and evolving understanding of what it means to be Māori and to stand confidently in who I am. Today, I can say with unwavering mana that I stand a full foot taller in my Māori identity. Ngā mihi nui, Whakauae!


Jorja Heta

Participating in the Whakauae Winter Studentship 2023 mahi taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined. It was the first time I have engaged in a research space that is innately Indigenous in all frontiers and grounded in tikanga Māori. Being a part of the Winter Studentship mahi has allowed me to utilise both my university skills and my cultural lens. I was privileged to work alongside a rōpū of brilliant tauira, all passionate about working for our people.

Together, we collectively developed new ways to share discourse on politics for hapori Māori and decided to create a card game for our final product. Drawing from pūrakau, ngā ātua and our own lived experiences in this kēmu, we were guided by our supervisors Tanya and Tom. They supported us with the highest degree of aroha and manaakitanga, providing the space for us to tap into our creativity and draw on our strengths.

I learned that the personal is political and that the wellness of the work is sourced from the wellness of the people too. The name, Whakauae stems from Te Whakauae ā Tamatea, also known as the Jawbone of Tamatea. Just as the jawbone symbolises kauae-runga and kauae-raro, celestial and terrestrial knowledge, this studentship allowed us to source both tangible and intangible mātauranga Māori. We were inspired to conduct research intuitively, ancestrally and grounded in Indigenous methodology. This studentship provided a transformative experience that has taught me so much about myself. I would strongly encourage all tauira Māori to apply.

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