Rotorua Lakes Council says summer intern, Kahotea Gardiner, epitomises the whakataukī (proverb); kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua – ‘I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past’.
The Ngāti Pikiao/Ngāti Raukawa descendent is one of 10 rangatahi who joined council for its summer internship programme.
Students get hands-on experience in various areas of council that align with their fields of study.
Kahotea (pictured) recently completed an undergraduate degree in arts, majoring in anthropology and criminology at Auckland University. In the coming months she will study towards a Master of Arts, in anthropology at Waikato University.
The 21-year-old got to work with Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa –Rotorua Museum team.
“I think it’s important to learn your history for multiple reasons. For myself personally, learning about places and people who I descend from has helped ground me in today’s world,” she said.
“All of these places and people have their own story that in some way contribute to mine. I also think that looking to the past can help you get an idea about what the future might look like.”
Having a passion for Māori culture, Kahotea says seeing taonga the museum takes care of is exciting.
“I definitely enjoyed it. I’ve had so many new learnings that I will continue to take with me in my studies. It was much like I was expecting. I expected to be more involved in research – which I am glad I was.
“It was also cool to see how much interaction goes on in and amongst the team, as well as out in our hapori (community). I think the biggest learning I will take from council will be understanding a bit more about how councils work.”
A fluent speaker of te reo Māori, Kahotea grew up on the shores of Rotoiti with her mother, father and two brothers. The siblings attended Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Rotoiti along with their wider whānau.
“My parents have always encouraged me to pursue things that I am passionate about. My passion and appreciation for all things Māori is my reasoning for anthropology.
“I’m immensely grateful for their support. I also recognise the effort and love that my wider whānau has shown me.
“During the holidays we would get to stay with Nanny and Koro. It was fun we would hang out with all our cousins and I would go to the marae and help the kaumātua and kuia mow the lawns and all that sort of stuff. I liked talking with all of them, they always helped me understand the past better,” Kahotea says.
The Council’s People and Organisational Development co-ordinator, Louise Stanley, runs the intern programme.
“We received 148 expressions of interest for the 10 positions this time around which is a record high number for us,” she said.
“All the interns have a connection to Rotorua – some were born here, others moved here later in life, and many have returned to be with whānau over their summer tertiary break.”
The summer intern programme is advertised from early October each year on council’s website and social media channels as well as through local media, Student Job Search and various tertiary institution online job boards.