Kuratapirirangi had not considered studying the Tohu programme before it was recommended by her mother, Professor Rawinia Higgins—Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Māori Research) and Head of School at Victoria’s Te Kawa a Maui. She admits she was initially reluctant, “not because I wasn’t interested in Māori Studies, I just wanted to do something different from my mum and grandmother because I knew people would expect more out of me if I followed in their footsteps. But the programme has taught me so much, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
The Tohu Māoritanga programme is designed to provide students with a foundation in Māori language, culture and society, as well as giving them the academic study skills required at tertiary level. It provides a pathway into a Bachelor of Arts and other undergraduate degree programmes.
Looking back, Kura is pleased she listened to her mum and has enjoyed studying in a place she says has always felt like home—Te Herenga Waka Marae. When Kura was two she moved to Wellington to live with her grandparents, while her mother was working and finishing her PhD at the University of Otago. Every day after Kōhanga reo and school, she would wait at the marae for her grandmother to finish work. Te Ripowai is the taurima/manager of Te Herenga Waka Marae.
“Between both my mum and grandmother, I’ve basically got my own personal library on campus and they know all the right people to talk to when I need help!”