Leadership Through Learning is a free leadership development programme for Māori and Pacific tertiary students, run by Te Tumu Herenga – Libraries and Learning Services at the University of Auckland. This programme is designed to help students lead, empower and transform through normalising their leadership and learning success.
Maringi Marsh and Jaeman Busby, two students who have completed the programme, share how their experiences with Leadership Through Learning has impacted their student leadership journeys at the University of Auckland. They detail how the programme encouraged a more holistic engagement with studying and reflect on their personal development.
Ko Te Maringi Mai o Hawaiiki tōku ingoa. He uri ahau nō Te Arawa whānui. He akonga ahau i te Matai Hinengaro i ngā tau e whā. He kaitono nō te mahi Leadership Through Learning ahau.
I come from Te Arawa. I am in my Honours year of Clinical Psychology, and I work as a facilitator for Leadership Through Learning.
I remember being in my first year of university and feeling like something was missing. I was mostly enjoying my studies, and I had made some great friends in Halls – but there was still an element of belonging at uni that hadn’t clicked for me. I realised that I was missing a safe space that allowed me to be my authentic, Māori self while I was studying.
I thought that joining Leadership Through Learning would be a nice place to start. But at the time, I didn’t realise how effective the programme would be. Each week, I spent time with incredible and inspiring Māori and Pacific students who helped build my confidence in uni. We celebrated each others’ successes, leant on each other when we needed support, and motivated each other to achieve. I had found the sense of community that I was missing.
An important lesson I learnt from Leadership Through Learning was that my culture didn’t have to be neglected in my studies — I could find ways to connect my studies with the values, beliefs and worldviews of te ao Māori. This programme allowed me to align my mahi with my passions, my goals, and my whānau. It helped redefine my definition of success to include our everyday achievements as Maori and Pasifika students. It reminded me of why I came to university and who I was doing this for. Leadership Through Learning became a huge reason why I’m still at university today, striving to achieve and succeed for my whānau back home.
Leadership Through Learning provides the incredible opportunity to connect with and give back to like-minded, outstanding Māori and Pasifika students. And no matter how many times I run through this programme, I will never get used to the inspirational magic that happens when Māori and Pacific students come together.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini.
My strength is not as an individual, but as a collective.
When I started Leadership Through Learning, I was riding high from a successful first year of study in the Bachelor of Education programme. I was awarded a ‘First in Course’ award and a three-year scholarship. The year had just begun, my wife had just started her first year of tertiary study, and our daughter had just turned two years old. I was excited to pursue new opportunities. Before I knew it, I had enrolled in weekly Korean Language classes, selected as a scriptwriter for a filmmaking mentorship and started a podcast. I had received a leadership calling to serve in my church ward, and I was working part-time. All of this, amid lectures, assignments and a looming six-week practicum. I juggled them all pretty well, or so I thought. I rode a massive wave of momentum…
…And crashed on the jagged rocks of the practicum. The workload piled up every day. The teaching between school hours was manageable. But the meetings, planning, marking and feedback that happened outside of school/work hours? It all seemed impossible. Work consumed many late nights, early mornings and weekends to keep my head above water. Maybe without children, a partner or any other commitments, this would be achievable, but I didn’t have that option available. Nor would I want it. I tried my best to do it all but quickly realised I didn’t have the time, energy or mental fortitude to cover all my bases. So I made cuts that pained me—no Korean class, no work, no scriptwriting. No new endeavours, only the essential ones remained.
Leadership Through Learning was one of those essentials. It was a safe space. Authentic. Genuine. Accepting. There was nothing like it. Each week was a checkpoint, an opportunity to take stock and refine your focus. Throughout my time, I have gained knowledge that I know will benefit me beyond the programme. Some knowledge is practical, such as study habits to help with exams. Others are bigger picture, helping to develop leadership qualities. All of them are seeds that will bear fruit in the future.
My key takeaway came toward the end of the programme when we created and presented our vision board to the team. I had never made a vision board before, and as luck would have it, the presentations would coincide with my practicum. As my vision board came together, I was compelled to reflect on my journey. From past to present to future. I learned two things.
First, ‘Sic Parvis Magna,’ which translates to ‘Greatness from small beginnings.’ A reminder that although your journey is small, it is just beginning and destined for greatness however you choose to define that.
Second, the answer to a question I have never been able to answer. Do something you are talented at or do something you are passionate about? My answer: Talent without passion is an ocean without waves. It’s just a lake. Follow your passions. Eventually, your talents will get in line and find glorious purpose.
Leadership Through Learning runs as a one hour per week session, plus a full day Wānanga during mid-semester break. Each week includes different discussions about leadership and academic skills that help students to succeed in their studies and goals.
If you are of Māori or Pacific descent and are interested in a free leadership programme that provides a culturally safe space where we build community together and are transformed as a result? Please register your interest at www.auckland.ac.nz/leadershipthroughlearning or email email@example.com.
Ngā mihi nui; Ma le fa’aaloalo lava,
Whena-Maria Puaula – Learning Adviser
Te Hau Theodore Baker-Jones, Te Maringi Marsh, Veronika Iloilo & Keiana Arona – Learning Assistants
Kaita Sem – Team Leader | Abigail McClutchie – Strategic Leader
Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou; mō tātou katoa hoki
Seek after learning for the sake of your wellbeing and the wellbeing of us all.