University staffer set for Hawaiian experience

NEW POSITION: Waikato University employee Te Raukura Roa.
NEW POSITION: Waikato University employee Te Raukura Roa.

A "fishing expedition" exceeded a Waikato University staff member's expectations when it landed her a year's work in Hawaii.

Post-doctoral research fellow Te Raukura Roa will leave for Hawaii University in Honolulu next month after she was awarded a Fulbright scholar-in-residence teaching position.

Dr Roa, who teaches Maori language and performing arts at Waikato University, said she did not even apply directly for the scholarship. Instead, expatriate Dr Mary Boyce made the application on her behalf after she sent her curriculum vitae to the university while "fishing" for a position.

Dr Boyce would also be on hand to guide Dr Roa as she taught language proficiency courses at first and second year level and a course on performing arts and traditional song poetry.

“They have quite a strong Maori programme at the University of Hawaii," Dr Roa said. "It's been slowly building under the guidance of New Zealander Dr Mary Boyce, and Waikato's relationship with the university has been gaining momentum, too, with a number of [Hawaiian] students studying here."

Dr Roa was keen to immerse herself in the culture while she was living in Hawaii and determined to learn Hawaiian there, something she did not anticipate would be too difficult because it was similar to te reo.

"I've always wanted to live in Hawaii," the Waikato, Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Haua woman said.

"I've been there several times."

Hawaiian Kaeo NeSmith, who did a PhD at Waikato University and now worked at the Hawaiian University, would be able to assist Dr Roa in settling in, and in her extracurricular plan of doing a comparative study between the two cultures' dance styles.

Ironically, the residence position did not include somewhere to live, so sorting out her accommodation, probably flatting or in a hostel, was one of the first tasks on Dr Roa's Hawaiian agenda.

Waikato Times