New students were officially welcomed to the University of Waikato today. More than 1000 of them came to Te Kohinga Mārama Marae on the Hamilton campus for a pōwhiri, to hear speeches of welcome plus helpful hints on making the most of their study years.
Speaking in te reo Māori, Dr Tom Roa reminded the students of a proverb -- translating to ‘the bird that eats the miro berry rules the forest’. And he told them that they were like the birds, taking in knowledge that will help them to stand out from the crowd.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley said while Waikato wasn’t the largest university in New Zealand, it had a strong sense of community and more than any other it reflected the partnership between Pākeha and Māori, and the multinational population that New Zealand is today.
Professor Quigley named many successful alumni, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and he said among the crowd today he expected there to be a governor general, a prime minister, CEOs or other leaders in the future.
“Bring us your hopes, your aspirations and your dreams and succeed at whatever it is you do,” he said. “To be the best don’t forget to go to class, don’t forget your course work and don’t lose your focus or be distracted by those with less ambition than you have.”
Several student leaders spoke, telling the crowd to take pride in whatever they had chosen to study – be proud, play hard, but study harder. They talked about the amazing teachers on campus, urged students to get involved in clubs, create life-long networks, appreciate the diversity on campus, cherish the memories, and always take advantage of any free kai on offer.
A pōwhiri also took place in Tauranga today to welcome new students there.