Breadcrumbs

The sun will shine on graduation day for Watene Moon

7 June 2019

Watene Moon graduates today with a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) from the University of Waikato's Tauranga campus.

The University of Waikato graduation ceremony held today at the new Tauranga campus will see more than 115 students celebrate their achievements but for Education graduate Watene Moon, the occasion will be one of mixed emotions.

Just days ago, Watene attended his father’s unveiling in Ōmokoroa, the community that Murray Moon was an intrinsic part of. “My dad passed away last year during the middle of my third year teaching placement,” says Watene. “He’d been sick for 6 months prior to that and really sick for the last month. It was rough to go through.” While Watene will be surrounded by whānau and friends when he graduates with a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary), he knows his dad would’ve loved to see him walk the stage and deliver a speech on behalf of the Class of 2019.

Watene was born in Whakatāne at the same hospital where his parents, Margaret a nurse and Murray a patient, first met. The family spent a few years in Alice Springs, Australia before moving back to Tauranga where Watene attended Tauranga Primary, Intermediate and Boys’ College. After enjoying several successful years in the hospitality industry, Watene indulged his adventurous spirit through travel, eventually settling in Canada for eight years. In 2013 it was time to come home. Watene returned to help out with the family business – the Ōmokoroa Beach Store, the popular last stop before Matakana Island.

When Watene opted to embark on a path of tertiary study, a teaching degree at home in the Bay was the ideal choice to use the people skills gained through hospo and travel. “Having the Bachelor of Teaching offered here in Tauranga Moana made it a no-brainer,” he says. “The degree is unique because you learn a little bit of everything and you are put in situations of responsibility from the first week. It forces you to grow fast and adapt quickly which are good skills for any vocation, not just teaching.”

Watene threw himself into the University community in Tauranga from day one. He flourished in his roles as a Class Representative, Māori Student Mentor, Chairman of Māori student support group Mana Ake ki Tauranga Moana, and was selected for the Māori leadership programme Te Ahurutanga last year. Other highlights were his placements at Welcome Bay Primary, Ōpōtiki Primary and Greenpark School. He surprised himself when new entrant teaching became his favourite. “The honesty and freedom that little kids bring into the classroom was something I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did.”

Watene became a familiar face on and off campus and he has clocked up some serious Employability Plus Programme (EPP) hours in his role as a Student Ambassador. “I’ve gained so much from representing the University as a student ambassador. The communication skills, public speaking, connecting with diverse groups of people – it’s been one of the highlights of my studies.”

While most of his classmates secured teaching roles after their final placements, Watene couldn’t shake the feeling that he wasn’t done just yet. Of Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāi Tai and Tainui descent, he re-enrolled to do the one year diploma, Te Tohu Paetahi a full immersion te reo Māori programme. He’s already halfway through and says it’s the best decision he could’ve made. Like many Te Tohu Paetahi tauira (students) before him, Watene describes the programme as “life changing”. Being able to recite the karakia whakakapi at the conclusion of his beloved dad’s unveiling was an honour that previously would’ve been reserved for his fluent speaking cousin. When Watene stood amongst his whānau and the words resonated from within, it was a special moment his dad would’ve appreciated and been immensely proud of.

“My heart lies in Te Ao Māori and I want to teach in Te Reo if possible,” he says. “I don’t know where the journey will take me from here but I’m excited for the possibilities.”


Latest stories

Related stories

pip-sutton

Former Hillary Scholar in charge at Sport Waitaki

Sport Waitaki's newest regional coordinator is University of Waikato alumna, former Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar,…

University of Waikato marine scientist awarded women’s global fellowship in climate change

Dr Shari Gallop, a marine environmental scientist and University of Waikato Senior Lecturer based in…

ChemQuest winners

Chemistry knowledge put to the test

Students from Tauranga Boys’ College took out the top prize at the University of Waikato’s…

Discover AI and help shape New Zealand's future

Do you ever wonder how Siri or Alexa pull information from the web, turn on…

Tania Simpson

Waikato alumna receives award for a career dedicated to supporting her community

Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson has spent her career focusing on projects and roles that will…

Kevin Bowler

Marketing and leadership guru recognised by the University of Waikato for achievements

The man behind some of New Zealand’s well-known brands has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni…

Liz Coutts

Trail-blazing board director receives University of Waikato Distinguished Alumni Award

At the age of 31, Liz Coutts took on her first CEO role. Three years…

Craig Coxhead

Internationally sought-after judge recognised by University of Waikato for services to Aotearoa and Pacific nations

Judge Craig Coxhead has dedicated his judicial career to helping hapū and whānau to find…

Educaiton students

Auckland Secondary Schools and University of Waikato launch new postgraduate teacher education graduate qualification

The University of Waikato and a group of 12 Auckland Secondary Schools are launching an…

Tauranga academic joins prestigious taskforce of the American Psychological Association

Associate Professor Taciano Milfont from the School of Psychology - Te Kura Whatu Oho Mauri,…

mason-ashford

Making the most of Study Abroad in lockdown

When Mason Ashford arrived at the University of Waikato from Florida for her Study Abroad…

Rangi Matamua

Aotearoa Star Man continues winning streak

The Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies has added another Ngā Whetū o Matariki award…