Hanareia Ehau-Taumaunu

2015 Post Graduate Scholarship recipient

Hanareia is the recipient of the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust’s 2015 Postgraduate Scholarship award and this is her story…

My pāpā is from Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Rarua, and Te Whānau-a-Apanui and my māmā is from Ngāti Uepōhatu, Ngā Puhi, and Ngāti Porou. I have been schooled in Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori and Wharekura. Our whānau is grounded in our identity as tangata whenua and our commitment to kaupapa Māori and Te Reo Māori. We have lived in the rohe that my parents belong to and this has allowed myself to gain an understanding of who I am and where I come from.

I have just begun the first year of a Masters in Science at The University of Auckland. Prior to this I completed a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in biological science, Māori studies and writing studies. For my Masters I am taking a variety of papers based in plant biology, biotechnology, plant pathology and protein interactions. In my research I will be working along side the Next Generation Biopesticides Programme which is aiming to develop envirnomentally safe alternatives to pesticides currently used to control economically important insect pests and diseases that limit productivity in the pastoral and horticultural sectors.

My greatest motivation is my whanau. Without them I would not be where I am today, and I would not strive as hard as I do to make them proud. I am very passionate about becoming a scientist in my own right and using my scientific skills to support Māori whanau and business endevours to create success and hope. My current goals are to complete my studies and hopefully obtain a PhD project and then enter the work force that has connections to Māori in agriculture and horticulture. I also love to give back by inspiring young rangatahi to take an interest in any science at school and to show what possiblities there are in a career in science.

From wharekura I discovered an interest in science, to explore and understand what is around us and to share that knowledge. This interest lead me to studying biology at university along with my passion of creative writing and maintaining my link to Te Reo Māori and my culture.

Hanareia has some words of advice for anyone wanting to study science

Take all the opportunities that come to you and do not be afraid to seek them out yourselves. Putting myself out there and connecting to people is the best thing I have done to further my career and networks in science. Always give back to those that have helped you on your journey and inspire those that will be ngā rangatira o āpōpō. Connecting science and Māoritanga can give you a uniqueness that is desired in Aotearoa and is needed to assist Māori iwi, hapū and whanau to grow and support their goals and aspirations.

Hanareia has a whakatauki to describe the work she does/journey she has taken

He kai kei āku ringa – The food at the end of my hands is indicative of my abilities and resources used to create my success.

Two of the main skills I have had to develop over my journey are commitment and patience. University demands a lot of work and to complete my degrees I had to commit to long hours of study and working part-time jobs. I also participated in many programmes that my University undertook to support rangatahi Māori looking at studies especially in the sciences and health sciences. I also took opportunites for summer work and was very fortunate to work at Plant and Food Research for three summers working with kiwifruit and on Māori kiwifruit orchards. By following my passions I had to study longer than most degrees, and I had to be patient that my time would eventually come. Due to my patience I was able to complete my degrees and maintain my connection to my whanau. From my time at University I have learn many different skills that will enable me to pursue a career of interest and participate in supporting our people and retaining a stong connection to my Māoritanga.

My journey has taught myself to be proud of who I am and where I am from. I will always know where my papakāinga is and the land that it is on. I began to learn my Te Atiawa/Ngāti Rarua whakapapa from my pāpā when we lived in Motueka when I was young. At the time, the Waitangi Tribunal claim was happening in Motueka and through that process I was able to learn my connection to the iwis that came down from the North and those that are now residing in the top of the South Island. Many of this knwoledge was through stories, waiata and whakapapa lines. Then we moved to Taranaki and I learnt more about the iwi and hapū connections.

The access to university is becoming limited to rangatahi as prices go up and for many their studies are very distance to their homes. This creates extra challenges to stay connected to whanau and our Māoritanga. The support from NRAIT eases this struggle and will allow rangatahi and myself to connect to our roots and in the end support our people.

Science and mātauranga are very similar in concerns and the approaches needed to sustain life and the environment, and this gives me great hope that one day Māori scientists will be leading the charge on many scientific fronts to ensure Māori are being heard and represented. Protecting our taonga species and crops are important in a world that is constantly changing and new threats are forming.

The next thing for me is to complete my Masters research and look for possible PhD positions or work opportunities in Aotearoa to gain more experience in science. I want to explore combining science and mātauranga Māori and ensuring Māori become a part of the scientific community to have our voices heard. Science is a growing area due to climate change and the growing population and I see myself playing a significant part in the next generation of scientists solving the world’s problems.

Update February 2019

I am now in my 2nd year of my PhD at Pennsylvania State University. My research is progressing well, included receiving a grant from a local growers group to pursue one of my projects over the summer. I have presented at multiple conferences both locally and nationally, including SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) and AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society) which both support Indigenous and underrepresented students in the science. They were a great way to connect with others of similar background and reflect on my future goals. My partner and I have also been able to travel around the US exploring new environments and kai. Plenty of mahi to do, but things are going well.

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