Becoming part of a new community

Coming from a tight-knit community, arts student Hine Parata-Walker was relieved to find a strong sense of belonging at Victoria University of Wellington.

Hine is in her third year of studying towards a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Māori Studies and Political Science.

Small town girl

Making the leap from the tight–knit community in Tolaga Bay to the nation’s capital could easily have been unsettling for born-and-bred East Coast student Hine, of Ngāti Porou and Kai Tahu. Instead, she found the move comforting.

“I’ve always been a person who’s appreciated community. Coming to the University, there are so many things you can get involved in, it’s like being enveloped in a community as well.”

Where decisions are made

Hine’s main motivation to enrol at Victoria University of Wellington was her interest in politics, partly founded in her involvement in youth council in her school years.

“I was really interested in studying Political Science. There’s also a vibrant culture in Wellington that’s very different to anywhere else in New Zealand and I was really interested in being where the decisions are being made in our country. Studying Political Science while being in Wellington has helped me see things at a national level and has given me real life experience of seeing how Parliament works, how legislation is passed. You see the end game.”

Rewards of mentoring

In her first year Hine was mentored through the Te Pūtahi Atawhai programme. Her mentor had a lasting impact and inspired Hine to become a mentor herself.

“It was kind of a wake-up call when I first came to university and was given a mentor. She just kept asking me, ‘Why—why—why is that the answer?’ And it was something that I’d never really had to think about as much. I quickly realised that university was a totally different ball game to the one I’d been playing previously.”

Getting involved

“I’ve been a note-taker, a class rep, I’ve been a part of the Māori Students’ Association and the Kapa Haka group—they’ve all added to my learning experience during my time here.”

Tīpuna and Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Seeing the Treaty of Waitangi at the National Archives as part of a Māori Studies paper was a significant learning experience for Hine.

“It was very powerful, sad in a way, and inspiring. So many things have happened in our nation’s history because of this document. Some of my tipuna signed it, so it was significant on a personal level but also at an academic level. I guess it’s a connectedness to our past and also being able to recognise that the Treaty is an ongoing story and it’s still relevant today.”

Know Your Mind

“Knowing your mind is about knowing how your mind finds meaning in things or how your mind is able to search through information in order to find those answers. And it’s about what makes you tick, or what inspires you and what challenges you. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning really.”

See other students talk about their university experience and what Know Your Mind means to them.