Javier Doorbar

Javier Doorbar

Te Atiawa, Otaraua

Today he is working for Fonterra, and an aspiring leader - selected as the graduate speaker at his ceremony - but there was a time when he didn’t know if university was for him.

Human Resources Advisor at Fonterra

Javier Doorbar

With his two young sons watching on, Javier “Wa” Te Wawaro Doorbar (Te Āti Awa, Otaraua), 31, walked proudly across the marae atea to receive his Bachelor of Business degree from the University of Waikato.

It was a walk he was very proud to make, a milestone on his long and winding road.

“My journey started in 2010, when I was a little Māori boy from a small town in Taranaki called Waitara. I wanted to make something of myself.”

He knew then, at 18, that he wanted more, to travel the world.

Growing up in kura kaupapa, he was fluent in te reo Māori, and learnt to write in English at the age of 13.

His university journey began in 2010 with a bridging course, Certificate of University Preparation (CUP), which taught him how to navigate tertiary study and write assignments.

“It was a bit of a struggle. I couldn't quite string a sentence together in English properly. But I did my best.”

However, after completing CUP, he failed his first-year University papers.

Feeling defeated, he left.

Te Wawaro went into the workforce for two years, working at Waikato Museum before joining the Royal New Zealand Navy in 2015.

Eager to learn more about what it took to become a good leader, Te Wawaro decided to come back to Waikato University in 2020, 10 years after he first began.

“I knew that this time would be different, I would use the tools through my life journey to guide me.”

He enrolled in the Bachelor of Business degree at the Waikato Management School (WMS), majoring in Human Resource Management and minoring in Leadership Communication and Project Management.

“I passed my first papers, and the doubt disappeared.”

Te Wawaro joined the WMS Māori student club Te Ranga Ngaku in 2021 as Pou Tikanga.

He was also a WMS Māori Mentor (Whītiki Tauira) 2021-2022. Both roles involved mentoring and supporting other students, and connecting them to Māori culture - particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2022, Te Wawaro became president of Te Ranga Ngaku.

As much as he gave to others, the relationships he developed with fellow students were vital to his success.

“They were like a family that supported me through all my studies,” says Te Wawaro.

The support of lecturers and fellow students made a big difference.

“There was a lot of wrap-around support at Waikato, and that was really important to me. That's one of the reasons why I came to Waikato; I knew I needed support from the beginning, that this wasn't going to be an easy journey.”

Raising his two sons as a solo father, while meeting his study and financial commitments, was a juggle.

“I tried to go to classes with a smile on my face and do the best I could, but they wouldn't have known that I had to walk like 15 kilometers to take my kids to school.”

The hard times gave him the motivation and determination to succeed.

“The experience taught me a lot.”

In November 2022, Te Wawaro completed his degree, doing it in two years by studying at Summer School.

In April 2023 he graduated, with his family, including his Dad and Nan, and sons Hakopa Te Moana and Te Kapua-iti, by his side.

“My message [to others] is, you can do it,” says Te Wawaro. “My teacher told me I wasn’t good enough to go to University, but I did it. If you are a young parent, and you think you are not going to make anything of yourself, that’s not true.

“Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and use all the tools that university provides.”

Today he juggles full time work at Fonterra as a Human Resources Advisor with a part-time role as a sailor in the Navy, regularly involved in operations - honing his leadership skills for the future.

He also continues to support Waikato University as an ambassador for TupuToa, an organisation that connects Māori and Pacific students with industry internships.

“I’m very driven,” says Te Wawaro.

“In the future, I want to be in a position that can help more people in human resources and leadership development spaces, but also teach, educate and lead Māori and Pacific people. So when they come into these spaces, that they can feel safe, that they see somebody like themselves.”

Javier Doorbar

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