Catherine Graham

Diploma in Te Tohu Paetahi

Master of Arts

Te Tohu Paetahi, Māori and Indigenous Studies, Music

Key Info

  • Diploma in Te Tohu Paetahi
  • Master of Arts
  • Te Tohu Paetahi
  • Māori and Indigenous Studies
  • Music

“Fast and furious” is how Catherine Graham describes the pace of learning in her Te Tohu Paetahi (TTP) class.

“It was an extremely rewarding year,” says Catherine who graduated in 2020.

“There were many times when I came to experience the significance of values such as whanaungatanga and manaakitanga; that every person matters, and that the successes and challenges of one, belong to all. The skill and dedication of my kaiako, combined with daily waiata and fun learning approaches, meant we improved on a daily basis.”

She came to the one-year intensive course with limited te reo Māori and a thirst for understanding.

“My journey to Te Tohu Paetahi arose from a growing disquiet in my own mind as to what it truly means to be in a ‘Treaty partnership’ with my students and the broader community,” she says.

As a non-Māori, Catherine says she’s never considered it her right to learn the language and thinks of her time in Te Tohu Paetahi as a privilege. She enjoyed every experience.

The unique delivery of the programme, which includes regular noho marae (overnight stays) and field trips, extends the learning beyond the classroom environment.

“We would be immersed not only in te reo, but tikanga, storytelling and whakapapa contained in whakairo, waiata, stargazing and time with kaumātua,” says Catherine.

Along with learning the language, Catherine gained a deeper understanding of mātauranga Māori and, in her words, “an insight into the external and systemic challenges Māori negotiate daily in order to thrive as Māori.”

Her love for the kaupapa has seen Catherine pursue a Master of Arts (MA) majoring in Māori and Indigenous Studies Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao – the Faculty of Māori & Indigenous Studies.

Catherine believes that Te Tohu Paetahi and her current studies, are pointing her towards a better understanding of the depth of Māori knowledge, creativity, skill and talent founded in the past, yet deeply relevant for today and the future.

“I have appreciated learning alongside a group of wonderful people, through really inclusive and effective pedagogies every day. My life and thinking has been challenged and transformed in many ways.”

Following her TTP and Masters study, Catherine has taken up a new position in the Ministry of Education as part of the NCEA Review of Achievement Standards.

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