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July 26, 2015 | by  | in Opinion |
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Ngā Rangahautira

Ko Ngā Rangahautira tētahi rōpū e tautoko ana i ngā mahi a ngā akonga Māori e whai ana i te tohu ture. Ko ngā mahi a Ngā Rangahautira, he tautoko, he akiaki i ngā akonga ki te whai i tēnei rākau ture a te Pākehā. He rōpū awhina he rōpū tautoko i ngā akonga Māori ki te whakanui i tō tātou Māoritanga i roto i te ture.

Ngā Rangahautira (or NR for both time and pronunciation’s sake) is the creation of some particularly exceptional people.

Beginning their journey through a predominantly Pakeha world, NR was birthed to assist and support Māori Law students with their studies at Law School by fostering a commitment to Tikanga Māori and ngā ture Pākehā.

And like all great things, it survived.

For many students, the journey through Law School can be filled with experiences of the occasional low of getting mediocre marks, the regular occurrence of morning sunrises and doomed attempts to cover a trimester’s worth of reading in two days. But for Māori, being a Law student not only means experiencing those things other students experience, but also a constant conflict between your culture and westernised academic ways. It is easy for any Māori Student to be swept up in the hype and academia prevalent at Law School and effectively be colonised, losing sight of their culture. Therefore it is entirely a matter of individual choice as to whether you maintain your cultural identity throughout Law School.

Sometimes, it is a tough decision to make.

Though you may see yourself in many different lights, as Moana Jackson once said, the decision comes down to whether you want to identify as a Māori Law student or a Law student who is Māori.

Yes, there is a distinction (of course we are law students).

To take the words of a Law student who so greatly enunciated the distinction, Mr. R Kohere (in a wonderful blog he writes entitled “Courted”),

“The former encapsulates the thought that racial preconceptions and misconceptions characterise me more than my endeavour to study the law. The latter, however, encapsulates the complete opposite: that I pursue the law just like every other Law student, and yet my culture—my Māoritanga—anchors me. The distinction is powerful. And it should always be emphasised. After all Māori are learning about a legal system which is inherently colonial and inherently ‘foreign’.”

The choice inescapably defines who you are for the rest of your journey throughout Law School and maybe your professional life.

Don’t get us wrong, Law School is a wondrous place and the position occupied by Māori is a privileged one, but the struggle is inevitably real.

Thus the creation and survival of NR has meant that there is a whānau on campus who supports and encourages students who are Māori to participate and be guided through an exploration and expression of their Māoritanga in the law.

And to be there to provide a voice for Māori students on campus.

For those that have gone before us and shown us that Law school is a place that we can thrive in and succeed, we thank you.

We thank you for the creation of an Association dedicated entirely to us.

We thank you for the struggles you went through that have allowed us to have that much more of an opportunity to not lose sight of our cultural identity.

We thank you for the role models you have provided that go beyond racial stereotyping.

And we thank you for showing us what it really means to be a Law Student who is Māori.

Once a member of Ngā Rangahautira, always a member of Ngā Rangahautira.

But with all that said and done, here is what we consider the Top 10 Perks of Being a Law Student who is Māori:

  1. You know where all of the free food is.
  2. Track pants and hoodies create a legit uniform.
  3. You can talk about “Māori things” without feeling racist.
  4. You genetically inherited knowledge of all things that are Treaty of Waitangi related.
  5. You are of course extremely knowledgeable about law-tikanga interactions.
  6. All Māori Law students are cousins; incest is a Pākehā concept.
  7. You can name every Māori student at Law School.
  8. You revel in the irony of the Māori and Pacific Island Room being the safest place in Law School.
  9. Yip, whānau lawyers are a thing.
  10. (Perhaps the greatest perk) never being Socratically called on in a lecture because your name is “Rongomaianiwaniwa” and the lecturer does not want to murder the Māori language.

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: 1). I wish my friends knew that when they ask me what “percentage” of Māori I am—half, quarter, or eighth—they make me feel like a human pie chart. I don’t know how people can ask this so nonchalantly, but they do. So I want to let you know: this is a very threatening