Leading the Way for Māori Achievement

A Beacon of Hope in the Journey towards Reconciliation

In a world often plagued by injustices, disparities, and historical breaches, Renee Jepson stands out as a harbinger of hope. With a deep-rooted sense of purpose, she approaches every “hui” with optimism, carrying the belief that a brighter future is possible. Renee Jepson, hailing from Ngāti Porou, is a dedicated facilitator at Poutama Pounamu, a division of Waikato University committed to advancing Māori achievement. Her passion for education, anti-racism, and reconciliation has led her to extend her work beyond the educational sector into the broader community.


A Personal Connection to the Cause

For Jepson, her mission is deeply personal. She has worked tirelessly to support “ākonga” (students), “kaiako” (teachers), and “whānau” (families) in the educational realm, striving to bridge the gaps of disparity and injustice. Her free workshops on “Te Tiriti” (the Treaty of Waitangi) and anti-racism serve as a platform for professionals to delve into the historical injustices that have created disparities and inequities, both in and out of the workplace.


The Painful Legacy of Te Reo Māori Suppression

One of the most significant breaches of Te Tiriti was the banishment of Te Reo Māori (the Māori language) from schools, severing generations of Māori from an essential part of their identity. Jepson’s own family experienced this firsthand, as her father was punished as a child for speaking Te Reo Māori in the playground. The punishment took a heavy toll on him, as he lost the ability to “kōrero Māori,” leaving a void in his identity. Jepson shared, “Language is your identity: he’s grown up with a chunk of his identity missing,” and the pain of this loss reverberates through the generations.


Renee’s Remarkable Journey

The irony of Renee’s decision to study Te Reo Māori at university was not lost on her. She realised that she was paying for something her father had possessed. Even more challenging was the scepticism she encountered from strangers who questioned her choice. However, Jepson persisted, spurred on by her grandmother’s unwavering belief that her educational pursuit would one day be celebrated alongside her uncle’s achievements.

Hone Kouka, her uncle, is a celebrated playwright and director who received the Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate, including the Sir Roger Hall Theatre Award. Jepson’s family’s resilience in the face of generational trauma has inspired her to give back, particularly in the realm of education.


Becoming Partners of Te Tiriti

Renee Jepson has found her calling in teaching people how to be better partners of Te Tiriti. She firmly believes that every one of us, regardless of our role, is a partner of Te Tiriti, and we have a collective responsibility to ensure justice and equality prevail.

Renee Jepson’s commitment to reconciliation and her unyielding hope for a brighter future is truly inspiring. Her dedication to preserving and promoting Te Reo Māori, as well as her work in anti-racism and education, showcases the power of individuals to make a difference. Her upcoming workshop on November 18, an opportunity for attendees to deepen their understanding of Te Tiriti and anti-racism, is an invitation to join her in this journey towards a more just and equitable future. To secure your place, reach out to yuki_fukuda@hotmail.com and be a part of this transformative experience.


This article was sourced and rewritten from Stuff.co.nz


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