Tavehi Taviti

- Hawaii

Key Info

Why did you choose to study in New Zealand?

It’s always been a dream of mine to study in Aotearoa, New Zealand. I’ve always been inspired by the Māori culture and people and enjoyed watching kapa haka performances when groups visited Hawaii. I vividly remember getting goose bumps down my arms! I’ve enjoyed watching cultural performances and competitions like Te Matatini, Pasifika, and the ASB Polyfest, since arriving in New Zealand. New Zealand is a beautiful place and there is so much to explore from hikes to waterfalls, mārae (meeting house), museums, concerts, beaches, rivers, and more.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Waikato?

I chose to study at the University of Waikato because of the campus, the programmes available, the faculty, and the location. Most people with my major (Hawaiian Studies) study at Waikato because the programmes they offer make it easy to transfer credits. Waikato has one of the best indigenous studies programmes available. Waikato also offered me a good mixture of night life and outdoor activities. Hamilton is a good location to explore the rest of the North Island.

What do you enjoy most about studying at Waikato?

I really enjoy campus life, and my classes. I am studying Māori and Indigenous Studies classes and one Pacific Island Studies paper. These courses have taken me out of my comfort zone, making me think critically about issues happening within many different communities here in New Zealand. I enjoy that there is always something happening at the university from bible studies, to social events, culture hour, academic workshops and events at the village green. I’ve also enjoyed joining some of the cultural organisations on campus.

What places have you visited while here and which ones are your favorite and why?

My top three places are Taupō, Turangawaewae Marae, and the Tongariro Alpine crossing hike.

I visited Taupo with other exchange students. We went to Huka Falls, Acacia Bay and Otumuheke Springs. We also took a boat ride to see the Mine Bay, Māori rock carvings.

Turangawaewae Mārae was a favorite because I was able to see what was being taught in my class, in real life. I attended poukai (gathering), where people from different mārae come to mourn their deceased, have a feast, and bring up any issues from their communities with the Māori King, Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII. It was so powerful to listen to te reo Māori being spoken on the marae and to see how the kingitanga movement has guided Māori in New Zealand.

The Tongariro Alpline crossing was one of the most challenging hikes I have ever walked, but so worth it. The view was amazing once we reached the top and it was great to walk it as a group, encouraging each other along the way. It made me think I want to explore all the areas we have in Hawaii, when I return home.

What volunteering, interning or work experience have you done while here?

I am one of the Super Rugby ambassadors for the Chiefs Rugby team, based in Hamilton. I attend games, write blogs and share my experience with others who want to learn more about the rugby culture here in New Zealand. I actually have no prior knowledge of rugby, so Iʻm learning along the way.

What advice do you have for students considering studying abroad at Waikato?

  • If you have the opportunity to study in New Zealand, take it! New Zealand has so much to offer from its strong cultural background to the Kiwis who make you feel at home and take good care of you. The prices here are also resonable and there are plenty of adventures to be had.
  • If you come in trimester A, you will get mostly summer weather and the start of winter, so pack for both seasons.
  • If you save before coming, there are cheap flights to explore Australia, Fiji, Rarotonga, and the South Island, during the trimester breaks.
  • Make sure to get your courses approved from your home university and Waikato before coming. It makes it easier when you arrive here for orientation week.
  • Figure out your accomodation before coming and donʻt be afraid to live on campus, even if you’re a second or third year student. It makes it easier to meet other international and Kiwi students.
  • Set your goals before coming, so you have an idea of what you want to get out of your stay here.

What one thing have you found most different here than from home?

Towns in New Zealand are spread further apart than my home. It also gets colder in the morning and at night. In summer there is something called daylight saving where the sun goes down really late, which made me feel like there were more hours in the day.

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