Brian Tunui readily admits his motivation for study second time around is different.
PhD, Te Kawa a Māui
His first degree was a BCom in Financial Accounting from Auckland University “a long time ago”. He describes it as a means to an end in terms of acquiring a commercial skill that would lead to a job. Brian then came to Victoria University of Wellington where he completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons), majoring in Māori Studies before taking on a PhD in Te Kawa a Māui.
“My current study is about me and my desire to learn about Te Ao Māori, our reo, the history of our struggle, and our future. I want to know how I can contribute to the future from an academic as well as a commercial perspective.”
He highlights Māori Science and Māori Resource Management as two courses that have made an impact on him and have particular significance to his working life.
“I’m involved in the governance of a number of iwi treaty settlement assets. The challenge is to grow and develop these assets in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner that benefits our people. Part of that is being at the forefront of new thinking and technological developments. Science and resource management are important components of Māori economic development.”
Some of the opportunities Brian has had during his time at university include networking with other Māori students, finding out about the progress and challenges of other indigenous peoples and hearing Māori leaders talk about their areas of expertise and endeavour.
“The opportunity to korero with our staff at Te Kawa a Maui—the School of Māori Studies—who have an enormous wealth of knowledge and expertise of Te Ao Maori has also been invaluable.”
Brian says attending a large tertiary institution can be just as daunting for an older person as it is for a younger one. But he says the staff at Te Kawa a Maui and the marae have created an environment in which Māori students can feel safe, secure and supported.
“My whānau have also helped enormously and spurred me on when I wondered at some stages, what the heck am I doing?”
Asked what it takes to succeed at Victoria University of Wellington, Brian says passion, motivation, determination, time management and not being afraid to ask for help.
“The staff work hard for their students to ensure that they have the best possible chance of success.”