Milestone Māori: Graduate completes entire degree in te reo

Suraya Goss (Te Ātihaunui-a-Pāpārangi) graduated this week having studied her entire degree in te reo Māori. Photo / Massey University

Almost 100 years after the institution was founded Massey university is celebrating its first student to complete a bachelor’s degree in te reo Māori.

Suraya Goss (Te Ātihaunui-a-Pāpārangi) graduated this week in Manawatū with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in mātauranga Māori, the 21-year-old leaving her mark in te ao Māori even before entering the job market.

“Within the current BA degree and the compulsory papers that are part of it, I found it essentially hard to write in English what I could articulate in te reo Māori more effectively,” Goss says.

The undergraduate says a request to write her assignments in te reo was met with overwhelming support.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how positive and encouraging the response was, only because it wasn’t common knowledge that you could write assignments in te reo Māori. I should’ve known it was possible, considering it is an official language here in Aotearoa, right?”

Goss says there was pride in keeping the mana of te reo by completing her first assignment in te reo.

“I then set myself the challenge that I wanted to carry this on and complete the whole degree in te reo Māori.”

Goss, who was raised in Palmerston North and Kimbolton but born in Feilding, started learning te reo in the bilingual programme at Monrad Intermediate (Te Kura Waenga o Tirohanga), and by the time she graduated high school at Manukura, was fluent.

Coming from a family who had lost te reo, completing her degree in Māori was significant.

“My motivation was to re-instil this taonga within my whānau with the hopes of breaking intergenerational cycles that pave the way for future generations to come,” Goss says.

“The inspiration also relates to my passions for mātauranga Māori, te reo Māori me ōna tikanga and upholding their mana. The time is now for my generation to step in to a te ao Māori worldview using our education to bring the legacies and teachings of our tīpuna [ancestors], merging their kawa [protocols] and whakaaro tawhito [ancient thoughts] with contemporary learning.”

Goss plans to further her education with a master of arts where she hopes to research ways to improve and deepen the usage of te reo in tertiary education.

She hopes her story will encourage others to embark on their own studies in the language of their tīpuna.

“It’s important that our reo and our mātauranga are recognised, upheld, heard and seen across tertiary education.

“It’s also important that we push ourselves to advance the disciplines and identify ways we can offer support for tauira to make these processes easier and to develop their knowledge.”

Public Interest Journalism Fund
Public Interest Journalism Fund

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