Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu

toki“Although it is small, it is greenstone.”

This is one of the first whakataukīs (proverbs) I learned in my Māori course this year, and the only one I memorised, because it’s so simple yet perfect and profound.

We applied it to teaching – perhaps a student made a few edits to a paper that caused significant improvements. Or for ourselves, we took small steps to get to know individual characteristics about each student or learn bits of Māori. They are small efforts that are valued and can end up making a big difference.

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Biculturalism in Aotearoa

“We got lots of internationals here, eh?”

We, over 100 college students devoting the weekend to volunteering in the Akaroa community, stood at the gate of the Ōnuku Marae – women in the front, men behind, awaiting the Pōwhiri welcoming ceremony.


“Hehe, you’s is in fer a real suhprise,” he cackled. The Kaiāwhina leaned slightly forward on his intricately carved staff. He seemed to emanate old wisdom in a modern generation.

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Mihi Mihi

Two weeks ago I returned to New Zealand and hit the ground running. I landed about midnight on Sunday and got bombarded with new assignments in class the very next morning. I’ve moved flats and am now house sitting in a real house with two fantastic flatmates from Christian Union, the campus ministry we’re all a part of (more on that awesome situation and the lack of NZ housing insulation in a future blog post). I’ve hosted an amazing couchsurfer (also deserving of its own post), gone tramping, and returned to UCanDance.

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Visiting the Marae

My social media feeds may portray weekend tramping adventures, but, just so you’re not fooled, I’m still a full-time grad student. My Master of Teaching and Learning coursework at the University of Canterbury started three weeks ago, and I love that facet of life here too.

I’ve got just as much of an academic-prone mind as I do a mountain soul, and it feels really good to be back in a learning environment. My 22 other classmates and I come from a variety of professional, geographic, and generational backgrounds, but we’re all bright and have landed in this course because we are passionate about helping young people.

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