Abigail McClutchie standing near the new taonga outside Ask Auckland office

Say kia ora to our new Kaiārahi

Ko Whangatauatea, ko Hikurangi ngā maunga,
Ko Karirikura te moana.
Ko Waiapu te awa.
Ko Te Rarawa me Ngāti Porou ngā iwi.
Ko Abigail McClutchie ahau.
Tēnā koutou katoa.

Warm greetings to all our students and welcome to Semester Two!

One month ago I embarked on a journey as Kaiārahi of Te Tumu Herenga | Libraries and Learning Services. A Kaiārahi is someone who leads, develops, and executes strategies that advance Māori student and staff aspirations. They also build effective and enduring relationships with key stakeholders including iwi, mana whenua, and Māori communities.

I was brought up in Manurewa, South Auckland, and have ancestry to the Te Rarawa people in Ahipara, and the Ngāti Porou people on the east coast of the North Island. After University, I lived and taught English in Korea, returning back to Aotearoa in 2008. Following some work experience and further study, in 2015 I embarked on my PhD which explores ‘Mahi Rangatira in the entrepreneurial context’. Alongside my study, I was working as a Learning Adviser at Te Fale Pouāwhina where I designed the Leadership Through Learning programme and later the Te Wheke postgraduate programmes for Māori and Pacific undergraduate and postgraduate students.

As Kaiārahi, I envision helping us determine what it means to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi at Te Tumu Herenga, especially in terms of our spaces, teaching and learning development, research, and Mātauranga Māori Collections.

I recently attended the unveiling of a taonga fashioned by artists Anton Forde (Taranaki Iwi, Ngāti Ruanui) and Ngahina Hohaia (Taranaki Iwi) called ‘Ngā Roimata o Ranginui’ – The tears of Ranginui Skyfather placed outside the AskAuckland premises. Appropriately, the taonga marks togetherness, rememberance and new beginnings, recalling two significant events: the Christchurch mosque attack in 2019; and the building of the Albert Barracks Wall during 1846-1852 to keep Māori from invading the colonial seat of power at the time, (Old) Government House.

The event reminded us that with a Kaiārahi, a new Vice Chancellor, and an uncertain Covid-19 environment, opportunities have opened up for Māori students and staff.

My approach to the work ahead is anchored to three pou: leadership, empowerment, and transformation. A Māori worldview of leadership is one where the rangatira (leader) organises people in service of collective wellbeing and tino rangatiratanga (self-determination and independence). Empowerment recognises mana (power and authority) to be proactive about enabling what is good for Māori. Transformation recognises that we are not where we should be in terms of our Te Tiriti o Waitangi relationship and progress is needed to honour those commitments.

Over the next few months we will navigate Māori student and staff aspirations, and what those mean for leadership, empowerment, and transformation.

Kia toa, kia maia, kia manawanui – Be victorious, be brave, and be resolute.

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