Delane is currently finishing his final semester of study before gaining a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Te Reo Māori and Maori indigenous studies and minoring in Anthropology. Also, as a result of being awarded a Golden Key membership from UC (which is gifted to students within the top 15% of university), he has been invited to South Africa in May for an International Scholar Laureate Program that is a Delegation that focuses on international relations and diplomacy. He completed a summer internship at Canterbury Museum as part of the Kura Pounamu exhibition.
Update June 2019
Delane has recently returned from South Africa. Read his report below.
To the Ngāti Rarua Te Atiawa iwi Trust Board.
I am writing in response to the tautoko pūtea grant I was granted that went towards my trip to South Africa. I cannot thank you enough for the financial relief you provided as it gave me an opportunity of a lifetime. The experiences and partnerships formed while I was away with envision are life lasting. The delegation that focused on race relations and diplomacy saw a contingency of 32 students, 2 from New Zealand, 3 from Australia, 1 from Haiti, 1 from Canada and the rest from various states of America.
The opportunities we were blessed with ranged from visiting the U.S embassy whose security was tighter than Fort Knox, a representative from the Swedish embassy visiting us, attending a think tank at the Afro Middle Eastern centre, attending the Apartheid Museum, visiting Soweto and visiting what Is known as the Elton John Centre for at risk and orphan children. These opportunities are some that if not for the delegation I would never get to participate in. Each of these events left their own impressions on me. To be inside the U.S embassy was crazy to say the least but getting to listen to their employees and what it is like to serve in that space is something I am grateful for. To be able to hear how the Swedish embassy runs in contrast to that of the U.S gave me a better perspective and a more realistic one to how perhaps a New Zealand embassy runs on foreign soil. To give an example, the Swedish embassy is 21 people strong, whereas the U.S has hundreds. The Afro Middle Eastern Centre provided me with a greater knowledge of the conflicts of the Middle East and how it effects South Africa. It also taught me to positives of having the Afro Middle Eastern Centre being separate to that of the South African Parliament, they instead write papers that aid potential political actions in response to what is occurring in the Middle East but is not limited to the South African Parliament. The Apartheid museum was a surreal experience, to see items and conditions in which black and coloured Africans faced was difficult, but I am thankful to be able to have witnessed it as it is something you read about but was never something I thought I would ever see first-hand. The end of the exhibition you are required to walk down a path, with rocks on either side. You must take one rock from your right and place it on the left-hand side, this signified something that was sacrificed during the Apartheid, which was in many cases a life. The final experience I plan to touch on was the Elton John centre or also known as the El Dorado centre. This was for me the highlight of the trip, the centre is located near Soweto and runs as an after school project for at risk and orphan children, there was an estimate of around 100 children present at the time ranging between 4 and 16 years of age. It was a humbling encounter as these children were full of so much joy and happiness it was infectious. We separated into four different groups and went around to various stations and played games with the children. There was nothing special to the games except the excitement in which the kids participated in. They left a mark on me that I will always remember.
In terms of it assisting my studies, we were able to visit a tribe whilst in Durban. The village was called IsiThumba, and due to the changing of the times it opened up a commercial arm. This presented us with the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the way their tribes continue to operate in today’s society. IsiThumba is made up of 12 subtribes who reside side by side. Each of the subtribes elect a leader who represents them. There is however a main leader who councils over all, this leader is determined through blood, whereas the subtribe leaders can be anyone from that specific subtribe. If there is squabbles in a subtribe then a case is heard from a subtribe council and the leader will deem whichever punishment he sees fit. If the accused feels the punishment is too severe they can ask for the main council in front of the tribe leader. This is risky as the tribe leader has the power to banish the accused from the tribe. I am extremely grateful to have been able to see this tribe in person and learn about their interactions.
The final part of my trip was filled with an aspect of leisure as we visited the Kruger national park. This was an amazing chance to see the big five and other majestic animals in their natural habitat. That’s exactly what happened, I was fortunate enough to be less than 5 metres away from the likes of elephants, giraffes, buffalo and rhinos. I was also overwhelmed by the site of lionesses and their cubs, as well as almost observing a leopard in action as it was about to pounce on an Impala. The park was also home to monkeys, Baboons, Hyenas and warthogs. It was an education lesson as well, as our driver informed us in the black market dealings of rhino horns. It was upsetting to learn that the number of rhino poaching incidents is now sitting around 400 to 500 a year. This number was once as low as 32 a year, that was until a Chinese scientist released a statement saying that they conducted a study that rhino horns can cure cancer, from then on the number of rhino incidents have rapidly increased. Our driver informed us that the average price for a rhino horn is between $65,000 and $80,000 per kilo. The average weight per horn is around 8 kilos which is a minimum of $520,000. They believe around 300 poachers make their way into Kruger national park a day, and the corruption in the park is high due to kingpins threatening workers and their families.
This trip was like I mentioned above a trip of a lifetime and without the support of NRAIT it wouldn’t have been possible for me to take part, so again I thank you for our contribution in making it all a reality. I am more than happy to give back to the trust in whichever capacity it sees fit.