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Waitangi E. Teepa is a writer/editor/resource developer in both English and Te Reo Māori.
Waitangi also classifies herself as a Dreamer, Planner, Doer, and Achiever.
Tell us about yourself, your whānau, hapū, iwi, and school
Tēnā koutou! I’m Waitangi, born and raised in Ruatoki but now reside in the coolest little capital ever – WELLINGTON! I am of Tūhoe, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine descent. I attended one of the local kura in Ruatoki. There are two ‘formal’ schools but education was also taught on the many marae that are dotted around the area. All of them equally awesome.
How did you first get into editing and what is your current title?
Hmmm, you could say it was meant to be. My working life has been very colourful! I started off mowing lawns, then picking fruit and vegetables, then moved into doing odd office jobs. I then decided to up my game and got involved in the creation of a dictionary and realised I had these magic powers that brought words to life and BOOM! Found myself in publishing where I indulged my love of language and literature through writing, visual audio displays, and the creation of books! All sorts in all different mediums. I became a writer, then an editor, then a resource developer and now I am the Learning Developer Māori working as part of a team creating an exhibition! It’s very geeky but oh so exciting!
Who are some of the people who have influenced you?
I am influenced the most by home – the people, the place, that connection to the land. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the many learning experiences that I had and continue to have because of this connection, that tie to my whakapapa as a whole. I am grateful to have had an upbringing that celebrated who I am, and who we are as a people within wider Aotearoa. Not may people will have this which keeps me grounded and level headed.
Tell us about some of your major achievements.
It’s going to sound corny but my biggest achievement thus far has been graduating from mattress and cleaning duties at our marae to setting and decorating the wharekai! Also being able to tautoko our kaikōrero and be the go between for our paepae and the kitchen is something that I’m very proud of and hopefully, one day I’ll achieve the impossible – being the ringawera on the marae because we all know they’re the real bosses! Unfortunately me and cooking go together like marmite and jam sandwiches – not very well.
I guess other achievements include being part of Te RārangaTira, Te Aho Tūroa – Kōtuia, working in Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga because they hold such treasures! It’s such a pleasure to show people Te Tiriti o Waitangi and He Wakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni, and other taonga being housed within our walls. It really is a treasure trove full of golden puzzle pieces!
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I'm always working as I love what I do and I’m very passionate about it. I get to be creative, silly, serious, geeky, ignorant and all those other descriptors all rolled into one giant ball of awesome. I believe that the amount of work you choose to put into something will define the level of outcome that you want out of it. Work is not limited to jobs that you get paid to do. Anything that takes an effort is working, it’s like breathing, running, cleaning, cooking, reading and all those things. If you work with passion, you’ll have a passion to work.
How important is being Māori to you, and how does this influence your work?
Being Māori is important to me because it means I belong to a bigger collective of people, that being the united tribes of Aotearoa. However, because I grew up Tūhoe with some very Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hine traits, I am more inclined to say that my iwitanga, means everything and more to me. You could say that growing up this way has reinforced dreams and aspirations that are written and recorded in my dna. Therefore everything I do is through this lense and it will be wrong for me to comment on how descendants of other iwi view the importance of being Māori. It’ll be like asking an orange to comment on what it’s like to be a banana because they’re both fruit! You know?
What are your goals and dreams?
My short term goal is to make it to the opening of the exhibition without hurting anyone and then have a well deserved holiday. Hah! My long term goal is to explore eco-living, build a self-sustainable home and live off the land with my whānau.
What advice can you give to young people that want to get into writing and editing?
The only advice I have can be applied to whatever you want to do. Be passionate in everything that you do and surround yourself with people who are firm but kind! Believe in yourself, find that connection and create your own awesomeness! Never look upon something you’ve done as a failure, for within every failure is a valuable lesson.
What is your favourite kai Māori?
My favourite kai is Māori delicacies – whakamara (fermented pūhā), kōuka (tree cabbage), kina, pāua, oysters, tītī, pikopiko, a massive boil up, rewena, paraoa parai, mum’s pickles and preserves, crayfish, watercress, hāngi, smoked trout, tuna, oh man, I’m getting hungry.
Can you share an embarrasing moment with our readers?
I've had so many embarrassing moments! Like this one time when I fell into a creek full of nasty things and came out smelling like... POO! Or the time I ran into a goal post in front of everyone... or even the time I performed onstage with a massive hūpē stuck to my lips... gaaaah. Oh well, I still turned out alright.