Roimata Sam is a recipient of Uru Rangi (Postgraduate Scholarship). A busy mother of four, she is studying a Master of Education (ECE) while working full time for the Ministry of Education. Pretty good for someone who never really liked school!
At age 13 Roimata’s teachers told her she wouldn’t get anywhere in life. But rather than let the system beat her, those unkind words fueled and motivated her to prove them wrong.
“I didn’t really experience racism until 3rd form when all of us Māori girls were told we wouldn’t get anywhere in life. It amazed me that the teachers thought they had the right to say that to us. It made me think, how do you know this? You don’t know me.”
Roimata achieved on her own terms. She may not have liked studying, but her grandmother raised all her tamariki to value education so they can reach their full potential and have better opportunities in life. Two degrees later she is studying for her Masters, all while raising her four tamariki and working full time.
Raised on Whakatū Marae, she has whakapapa to six of the iwi in Te Tauihu. “I was taught that manaakitanga and aroha comes before anything else. Mahi and service - it’s just been our way of life, and that attitude has helped me everywhere I have gone,” says Roimata.
Studying for her first degree, a BA in Pacific Islands studies in Hawaii, opened her eyes to Pacific colonialisation and the context that brings to Aotearoa. She has been back in Whakatū 11 years during which she has had four tamariki aged 10, 7, 6 and 4 and completed a Poutūarongo Whakaakoranga Kōhungahunga (Bachelor of Teaching - Early Childhood) through Te Wānanga o Raukawa.
Roimata credits a massive support network which includes her husband, her parents, siblings, cousins, aunties and uncles that has allowed her to achieve so much. Prioritising her time is key. She tries to focus 100% on the task at hand, whether it is spending time with her tamariki or smashing out assignments.
Mid 2021 a new role of Lead Advisor - Whānau Engagement with the Ministry of Education came along. Accepting a job working in the system that said she would fail was a huge decision. It was an opportunity to disrupt the system, break down stereotypes, and tautoko the needs of whānau. “Not one pathway works for everyone. It’s time to take a Māori approach from a Māori worldview and that means being open minded about what success looks like for our people and how to achieve it.”
Over the years she has received education scholarships from NRAIT and other organisations. Te Uru Rangi offers a generous amount, and it motivates her to complete every assignment to the best of her ability. “It’s awesome to know our iwi has our back and supports us in our goals and aspirations. He tohu aroha, he tohu manaaki which sets an example for our tamariki and encourages them to chase after their dreams, instilling a work ethic while not having to stress about the pūtea side of it.”
Whānau is what drives and motivates Roimata and she believes her children will continue the legacy of mana motuhake and tino rangatiratanga as they are nurtured and celebrated in Te Ao Māori. “Our tūpuna fought for the things we take for granted. Although gradual, the acceptance and normalisation of Te Ao Māori in a Pākehā dominated society excites huge possibilities, and our kids are going to be at the forefront of it. To be fluent in Te Reo Māori and assert our culture without discrimination. It’s everything my tūpuna fought for.”