Meet Social Work student, Justino Mariri
In honour of Cook Islands Language Week, we spoke to one of our Cook Island students, Justino Mariri (left of thumbnail image), who is currently studying Social Work. We asked Justino what it means to be Cook Islands Māori, how she connects with the language and culture, and why she chose to study social work.
What does it mean to you to be Cook Islands Māori?
Connection. It's comforting knowing that there's a place my family and I come from that we can always go back to and connect to if we ever feel the need to take the trip back.
How do you stay connected with Cook Islands' culture and language?
Dancing and music makes it a lot easier to connect back to our culture.
What traditions do you or your family participate in?
Me and my siblings weren't raised within or around the culture, so it made it difficult to participate in cultural traditions which is quite common with New Zealand-born kukis. I recently got into taviri ie. (making head crowns), which makes me feel a lot closer to my culture.
Do you have a favourite traditional dish?
Either ika mata (raw fish) or raro donuts, hands down.
Are you doing anything this week to celebrate Cook Islands language week?
I am actively trying to incorporate more reo in my everyday conversation. Small steps!
How often do you speak Cook Islands Māori?
Not very often, it's not spoken frequently in my house. My mum was born and raised in New Zealand, and my grandparents spoke as much English as they could when they first moved over. So we all grew up around broken English instead!
Pacific ākonga are a vital part of community life at Whitireia and WelTec. We have programmes, networks and a strong Pacific team who work across our Porirua, Petone and Wellington campuses to help you succeed.
Why did you choose to study social work?
In a nutshell, I didn't have the most positive experience with social workers. I want to change the perception of what social work is and show others that had a negative experience that not all social workers are like that.
How are you finding the Bachelor of Social Work so far?
It can be mentally and emotionally straining but that's the reality of studying. I'm quite fortunate to have a class where we are all supportive of each other and help each other out.
What's the best part of the programme?
Probably applying what we learn in class to everyday life. We learn a lot of human development and psychological theories that not only apply to social work service users but our own lives, and can put a lot of the struggles we face into perspective.