A history of dealing with the courts, social workers and justice department officials left Alesia ‘Skiish’ Taumaunu wanting to know more about how the system worked.
“I was engaging with different services, so I needed to understand fully how the social workers forum works,” she says.
“Once I started to understand the workload that the social workers have to go through, then I got interested in learning more.”
To help her achieve that, Skiish enrolled in the Level 4 Manaaki Tangata Certificate in Bicultural Social Services programme at the Waitakere campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and says it’s been a journey of self-discovery.
“The Manaaki Tangata course opened my eyes. There’s a lot more to grasp than what I saw on the surface, there’s an in-depth tikanga that’s walks hand-in-hand with all of us.”
She says others have told her she’s a different person now than at the beginning of the course.
“Apparently I’m a lot more nicer than what I was,” she laughs.
“I’ve learnt a lot more about resilience and verbal communication. I’m better at understanding relationships and seeing things from different perspectives that I never saw before.”
The 38-week course covers topics such as relationship building, how to strengthen and enhance whānau, hapū, iwi, and community wellbeing, supporting whānau in culturally appropriate ways, the roles and obligations of social services in Aotearoa and how to apply a bicultural lens to social work practice.
Skiish says getting to know fellow students from a range of cultures has been another benefit of the course.
“I’m proud and privileged to be Māori but we’ve got people from India, Pasifika, it’s good to actually not focus on Māori so I can be culturaly aware and be more aware of the diversity. And it’s about understanding that not all families can speak English so well, you have to take the time to understand where their concerns are.”
She says the course is ideal for “anyone and everyone” who wants to find their place in the world.
“With the wānanga, they embrace who you are. They care enough to make that contact with you, they care enough to embrace whatever you’re going through - whether it be work or whānau, if they can help they will. There’s that whanaungatanga that you don’t get at varsity,” she says.
“It may not work for everybody but just take a look. This Manaaki Tangata course actually embraces who you are as an individual and you’re no good out there if you haven’t got your own self sorted.”