A place to belong

Hine Funaki explored views of the future for young Māori and Pacific people for her Master of Arts in Education thesis.

Hine Funaki is currently completing a Master of Arts in Education thesis

My research is titled “‘At least I have a house to live in’: Māori and Pacific young people’s hopes and fears about the future.”

The main questions I wanted to answer were: What hopes and fears do young Māori and Pacific people have for the future? And how do they establish a sense of belonging in everyday places?

Importance of a welcoming place

One of the key things I’ve discovered is the central importance of providing marginalised young people with urban spaces that welcome and value them as human beings. Another important finding is that when ‘place-belonging’ is not achieved, neither is the ability to construct stories of those places—and this ultimately affects how young people think about their futures.

I hope this study will help give a voice to young people who often fall below the radar of policy-makers, researchers and teachers. As researchers, I think our job is to let them speak, and to listen to what they tell us.

Wrap-around support for researchers

Victoria University of Wellington is my home away from home. I feel a strong sense of belonging here. I have had overwhelming support as a student and employee over my six years of study from undergraduate to postgraduate. My mentors ensure I am well equipped with academic, social and mental support and they are there to encourage my perseverance. I call them my ‘friendtors’.

Dream it, then do it

I am a firm believer in creating my own future. I envision my future and take steps to achieve my goals. For example, I planned to get first-class Honours, and I achieved it. I planned to get a Master's with distinction, and I achieved that too. I plan to undertake and complete a PhD in education, which I will do in the near future, and I hope to go on to become an education professor.

My advice for any researcher out there—believe in yourself and commit, commence and complete.