Vincent (Vini) Olsen-Reeder

Learning te reo wasn’t always part of Vini Olsen-Reeder’s master plan, so when it came to choosing his tertiary path, Māori Studies happened by chance.

PhD in Māori Studies

Despite originally majoring in music, he switched to Māori Studies after his first year and “never looked back.”

Now the first student to complete a PhD in te reo Māori, Vini says he chose Victoria University of Wellington because it has the best Māori studies programme in New Zealand. “There is no other programme of study that offers what Vic offers.”

As for living in Wellington, he wouldn’t want to study anywhere else. Vini loves the city because it is small, compact and unique, and because the CBD, beach, rocks, and walking tracks are all within 30 minutes’ walk or bus ride. His favourite part of Wellington is even closer to home, in the heart of the University's Kelburn campus. “The most special thing is Te Herenga Waka Marae. There’s nothing else like it in the world—really.”

He spends much of his day there, where practicing tikanga—Māori customs and traditions—sharing a cuppa, helping out at hui, and just “hanging out” is the norm.

Vini credits the support of his lecturers and tutors—his kaiako—as well as his Te Pūtahi Atawhai mentors, friends and marae staff, for motivating and encouraging his reo and tikanga journey.

And he has been encouraged by their lead to support those around him—volunteering as a campus coach and Te Pūtahi Atawhai mentor, helping out at the marae and acting as student representative on the University Council’s Māori Advisory Committee Te Aka Matua.