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Kia ora Gizzy Local Whānau,

Here’s your weekly round up of what’s going on in Gizzy this coming week. I was excited to see an 8 week fees-free course in Rongoā being held by EIT in this week’s listings. It reminded me of days gone by when educational institutions used to offer night classes in all manner of life skills, things like upholstery, drum-making, foreign languages, creative writing…

It seems as if with the fees-free regime released post-lockdown last year, we may be experiencing a resurgence in the night class. I’m currently doing one of my own, studying towards a certificate in Māori and Indigenous Art at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Learning alongside our tutor Johnny Moetara and a beautifully diverse bunch of humans, it is proving to be one of my defining life experiences.

I put this down to a number of things, but probably the biggest thing is being Pākeha, immersed in a Māori-run environment. There is much to notice – the subtle yet starkly different ways that ‘things are done’ and in turn, the way that these differences play out in the way we work, the way we learn and the ways we relate to each other. 

Our first task in the course was to create a visual representation of our pepeha. Pepeha – a way of introducing oneself – a structure, which identifies who we are, where we’re from and where we belong. “Everyone has a pepeha which links them to their ancestors” I read recently, but this Pākeha had never gotten around to finding out who her ancestors were. Until I was given the task and a deadline.

And despite that particular deadline having passed, my journey to discovering my connection – to everything else – has only just begun, and has become quite the consuming force.

I think my partner was right when he wondered whether there was actually enough time or space in my life to embark on this night class, I almost certainly don’t. But it’s probably the most important thing I’ve done in a long time, and I would recommend it to any (busy) person.

Do a night class, surround yourself with people you might not otherwise have ever met. Learn something new, and if you’re Pākeha and haven’t gone there yet, ponder that pepeha – it’s a profound starting point.

Ngā mihi nui,
Sarah 

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