Ever since she was a young girl, Alicia Ward had a deep desire to connect with her whakapapa (genealogy) and immerse herself in te ao Māori (the Māori world).
After enrolling their fourth child into a bilingual preschool, Alicia and her husband knew it was time to start learning te reo so they could kōrero Māori as a whānau.
“I remember always having a sense of longing. I knew something was missing in my life and I could feel that pull.”
Alicia’s mum encouraged her to study at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa after going on her own journey learning raranga (weaving) and rongoā Māori (Māori medicine).
In 2018, Alicia’s desire became a reality when she enrolled to study te reo Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
“Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has opened doors for me that I thought were permanently locked. I’ve been able to help bring back te reo to my whānau.”
After 5 years of study and reconnecting to her whakapapa, she has completed the level 7 Diploma in Te Pīnakitanga ki te Reo Kairangi. She was also this year’s tauira (student) speaker, and proudly wore kākahu (cloak) woven by her mum, on stage at her graduation ceremony in Ōtautahi, Christchurch.
In 2021, while on her learning haerenga (journey) at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Alicia was diagnosed with ADHD. But she highlights how her kaiako and fellow tauira encouraged and empowered her and how excited she was to reconnect with her Whanganui whakapapa.
“Your journey will be your own and it will look different to others. You may have bursts of progression, then years of nothing. That’s not a failure, it’s just the nature of the journey.”
Alicia and her mum have been able to impart their knowledge amongst their whānau and communities, and Alicia encourages those with even the slightest desire to learn reo Māori, to give it a go.
“The vision of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is whānau transformation through education. This has truly happened in my whānau. Both my mum and I are on this reclamation journey.”
Find out more about our te reo Māori programmes.