Ngāi Tahu rangatahi follows her passion

Alex Kitson, the 2016 recipient of the Beca Scholarship, is excited about her new position at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu as a member of the Puna Mahara team within Te Ao Tūroa.

Ngāi Tahu and Beca formed a partnership in 2015, which resulted in a new and exciting one year scholarship opportunity available to Ngāi Tahu whānau. The goal is to provide learning support and career opportunities for Ngāi Tahu whānau studying a tertiary qualification in engineering, architecture, planning, resource management, landscape and urban design and environmental management.

Alex hopes to work on preserving and protecting geographical locations sacred to Māori .

“I have always been fascinated with indigenous and Māori cultural planning,” she says.

Alex studied a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in human geography at Otago University and is thankful for the opportunities she had there.  As a winner of last year’s Beca Scholarship, she also acknowledges the “incredible work experience” she gained at their Dunedin offices.

Alex’s experience as a Beca scholar gave her the platform she needed to continue developing with the iwi, obtaining an 8-10-week work experience placement with the Puna Mahara team this year. On completion of her study, this may then lead to a fulltime graduate position within Puna Mahara in early 2018.

Alex (Ngāi Tahu) affiliates to Waihōpai and Awarua rūnanga and says she cannot wait to begin working a Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

“It’s an awesome opportunity,” she says.

“I’ve always been drawn to the understanding of how humanity perceived and used the environment and more importantly how Māori have viewed and used the surroundings.

As part of her new work, Alex hopes to strengthen her te reo Māori, and reconnect to her cultural roots.  So far Alex has already attended a noho marae at Taumutu and presented her pepeha at a staff mihi whakatau. This is just the beginning of Alex’s cultural journey and she says she “cannot wait to build her cultural confidence” in the fully immersive environment that is Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Alex is looking forward to giving back to both her whānau and iwi. She hopes she can accomplish this through her work with Ngāi Tahu, and her dedication to improving future outcomes for the iwi.

You can read more about the BECA Scholarship here: https://mahi.ngaitahu.iwi.nz/jobdetails/ajid/3eik7/Ngāi-Tahu-Beca-Scholarship,8263.html