Indigenous connections

12 March 2018

University of Waikato alumna Sada Charlie.

University of Waikato alumna Sada Charlie has just returned from a life-changing trip to Chinese Taipei, after being awarded one of the first ever North Asia CAPE Māori Business Scholarships. Leading a group of five scholars from around the country, Sada spent three weeks at the National Taiwan University (NTU), learning Mandarin, developing business connections, and examining the many similarities between Māori and the indigenous peoples of the island of Taiwan.

Currently working as a policy analyst at Te Puni Kōkiri, Sada was amazed by the connection she felt with the indigenous peoples. She studied the theory of local culture in daily classes, while experiencing it in real life through activities outside the classroom.

“Archaeologically, linguistically and genetically, there is a proven connection between the Māori and the indigenous people across the island. It was incredible to see the similarities, not only through the theory, but through the relationships we formed.”

A highlight of the trip was visiting a local indigenous community on a weekend excursion; an experience Sada says she would never have had without the scholarship. With sixteen recognised tribes and 42 different dialects, Sada enjoyed analysing the similarities between the native languages and Te Reo.

“We have a unique connection,” Sada says. “Our language, weaving, artistry, and even tattoos have clear similarities. The Māori concept of manaakitanga, or hospitality, is mirrored in the tribes across Taiwan – they were very welcoming to us.”

Sada graduated with a Master of Management Studies in 2016, and quickly found her job at Te Puni Kokiri. She credits her workforce success to the skills she developed while balancing her study with full-time work at the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development.

“The University really taught me to think critically, write well, and manage my time. These skills are really important for working in policy, so I was really prepared when I started my job.”