Zia Nisha always wanted to help people and a Bachelor of Education (Primary) degree from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has made that possible.
“It’s just my drive. I’d seen people that don’t get any education and I was like ‘I want to help them’ and there’re kids here who need help,” she says. After completing her three-year degree at the Māngere campus, Zia is now a Year One teacher at Rowandale School in Manurewa, and loving every minute of it.
“The first day of school the children were crying and didn’t want to leave their mum and dad, but the second day they come in and they’re not crying. It’s so rewarding. Every day they learn something new and then you test them, you see the results and it’s like ‘wow this actually worked out really well’. ”
Zia – a Muslim woman originally from Fiji – says her education at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa gave her the classroom tools she needed for a teaching career and also helped build her own self-confidence.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence in everything I do. Te Wānanga o Aotearoa helped me find where I belong in New Zealand.
Before coming to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa I would keep to myself and wouldn’t communicate with people much. But after coming to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, after three years, I’ve got so much confidence, I think I’m probably over confident with some things. At Te Wānanga o Aotearoa I felt safe and the whanaungatanga was amazing,” she says.
Coming from a Muslim family and being a girl, I think it’s the culture and the feeling of home at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
The first year they were very concerned but by the third year they knew everyone from my class, they knew the kaiako and it was really good.” Initially her mother sat with her in class and Zia says that helped allay any fears and showed her mother the safe and caring environment she was in.
While learning more about te Ao Māori during the programme, Zia says she realised her Muslim faith tied in well with Māori values. “I did a presentation about how Māori values and Muslim values align. Whanaungatanga, ahurutanga, ngā takepu and ngā uara, they all sit with our five pillars of Islam. That helped me with learning because it aligns so well.” She says the kaiako also helped her tackle any challenges along the way. “Life is not easy so you will have some challenges. I was concerned that I would get racist comments and stuff but everyone was so welcoming.”