“I am a Maori mother, woman, artist and educator. My twin sister and I were whangai, brought up by my grandparents, where cultural values such as whānau, kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga were all natural ways of being and doing. We had a large whānau – thirteen siblings altogether – so there was always lots of aroha to go around. My parents continually modeled that for us too. Coming together for us meant huge whānau gatherings – lots of kai, drink and of course great motown music in our humble garage. I treasure those good times.
As an educator I carry these experiences with me. That real sense of belonging, having a place and knowing that place. I’m always drawing from these experiences in the work I do which focuses on achieving better educational outcomes for our tamariki. The work is unashamedly Maori-focused because it needs to be. Our statistics retell the same story of disparity and inequity, and that has to change. It’s relentless work – both ‘heart’ work and hard work, but I remain passionate about this kaupapa and the challenges that come with it.”