Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Traditional Cook Island turou for new campus leader

Auckland University’s Te Papa Ako o Tai Tonga campus has welcomed its new leader, Tangatakiikii Pauline Teura’atua-Rupeni, with a traditional Cook Island turou performed by the Cook Island community.

Ms Teura’atua-Rupeni has been a part of the fabric of Waipapa Taumata Rau for some time, holding various roles at both the City Campus and Tai Tonga while completing her undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

Her father, Anthony Poti Araepu Teura, has whakapapa from Rarotonga through Titikaveka (Ngāti Raina line), Takuvaine and also from Ngāti Tipapa from the Metuariki family, Mauke (part of the Nga-Pu-Toru islands) Ngatiarua district and Tahiti from the island of Raiatea.

Her mother, Tangatakiikii Patricia Teura, has whakapapa from Atiu / Enuamanu (Part of the Nga-Pu-Toru Islands) Ngāti Te Akatauira (Ngamaru), Ngāti Paruarangi (Rongomatane), Ngāti Nurau (Parua) and the villages of Mapumai-Nui-O-Ruavari and Teenui-Kurukava.

She was handed over from her Cook Island community to the University in a traditional Turou ceremony, adorned with bright and colourful Tivaevae quilts and accompanied by the sounds of ukulele, singing and Te Reo Kuki Airani.

Ms Teura’atua-Rupeni takes over from former head Rennie Atfield-Douglas, and says she is learning the ropes as she goes.

“Rennie did a lot to guide me in these spaces and I give it up to him and the work he has done as our first leader here in Tai Tonga. It has been a really good start for me, looking at the portfolio of the campus and all the key stakeholders and where we’re at. I’m trying my best to slow down and take my time, but also be effective as a leader here in this space.”

She says she has “the privilege of the time to dream” as she’s worked here before and now gets to fulfill a lot of those dreams and take her people with her.

“It’s fun and exhausting but in the long run, it will be worth it for our communities out here. I know my vision will last long after I’m gone and I just love the community here in Manukau. They’re so hearty.”

One of her biggest joys is filling the campus with programmes and people that are not necessarily from the University, as having community members come in from outside gives more of a grounded feeling to the campus.

“It’s not your normal kind of thing. I guess I’m trying to open our campus up to this community and show them that the University of Auckland is here to support the community too, we’re not just a ‘city’ university’ we’re trying to have our doors open and be transparent about the community we share here.”

With family close to her heart, her goal is to ensure the space is one where students thrive and feel welcomed in their wholeness and with their whānau.

“My parents retired last year and they are living out whatever dreams they have now, resting and being together, and it is timely that I get to live out one of my dreams and help support them while  holding this role.”

“So it’s not lost on me the privilege I have now, and I’m determined to share it with the community I serve in whatever way I can,” she said.

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