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March 12, 2018 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira Opinion |
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NT: Te Ara Tauira

E tipu, e rea: The hopes and challenges of Maori students at law school.

“E tipu, e rea, mō ngā rā o tō ao, ko tō ringa ki ngā rākau a te Pākehā hei ora mō te tinana, ko tō ngākau ki ngā taonga a ō tīpuna Māori hei tikitiki mō tō māhunga.” (Thrive in the days destined for you, your hand to the tools of the Pākehā to provide physical sustenance, your heart to the treasures of your ancestors to adorn your head).

  • Apirana Ngata

Ngā Rangahautira is the Māori Law Students Society at Victoria University. Founded by Dr Moana Jackson and Sir Eddie Durie (the only two Māori students studying law at the time) in a broom cupboard in 1986, NR now has over 80 members, and numerous alumni. Many of our rōpū are aware of Tā Apirana Ngata’s famous whakataukī, where he implores future generations of Māori to go forth with the tools of the Pākehā in their hand and the treasures of their tupuna in their heart. The hopeful nature of this whakataukī often sits uncomfortably with the reality that our tauira face on a daily basis. As Māori students, we all hold dear the treasure that is our whakapapa, within our hearts and minds. As a result, studying and using the tools of colonisation is often a challenge. We learn the ways of the courts who stole our whenua, the governments who silenced our reo and the politicians who repressed our culture. Confronting the problematic relationship between te ao Māori and te ao Pākehā in the law is one of Ngā Rangahautira’s greatest challenges. Our solution to this challenge is to place emphasis on the latter part of Tā Apirana’s whakataukī. We seek to provide an environment where our tauira can express their culture and be proud of their whakapapa, which in turn (we hope) makes them feel more comfortable and confident within law school. Some initiatives that we have developed to achieve these aims include tikanga workshops, noho marae and Ngā Kaiaronui, a sub-group which submits to Parliamentary Select Committees on Māori legal issues. Through this environment, we hope to become a cohort of lawyers who can use the tools of the Pākehā to fulfil the dreams of our ancestors and thus fulfil Tā Apirana’s challenge.

If you are interested in following or getting involved with Ngā Rangahautira, then feel free to like our social media pages:

  • Instagram: nga_rangahautira
  • Facebook: Nga Rangahautira Maori Students Association VUW
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