Tū Mai Te Tiriti | Dr Te Rita Papesch

Māori learner success
Published: 14 February 2024

A talk by Dr Te Rita Papesch presented as a part of the ‘Tū Mai Te Tiriti’ | ‘Upraising the Treaty in Tertiary Education’ seminars from Tuia Te Ako 2023. 

Dr Te Rita Papesch Iwi: Waikato-Maniapoto, Te Arawa and Ngāti Porou.

Te Rita has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from the University of Waikato. She completed her Post Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary) from what was, at the time, Hamilton Teachers’ College and went on to teach in various secondary schools both in South Auckland and Hamilton. In 1987 she gained a position as a lecturer in the Tari Māori at Waikato University under the leadership of Sir Dr. Tīmoti Karetū. After having been supported and mentored by the likes of Te Rangiāniwaniwa John Rangihau, Tā Robert Māhuta and Dr. Te Wharehuia Milroy, Te Rita gained a position at Canterbury University eventually becoming HOD Māori.

A return to Hamiton for family reasons saw Te Rita take up a position at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa as Director of Te Reo Māori. Her next sojourn took her to Waikato Polytech as Head of School of Māori and Pasifika Indigenous Studies. Te Rita then returned to Canterbury to study for her PhD in Theatre and Film Studies with a specific study of Kapa Haka. She taught part-time in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies to finance her PhD studies.

After the Christchurch earthquakes she returned to Hamilton and worked for a time for the Ministry of Education while also completing her PhD. In 2014 Te Rita took early retirement for medical reasons, but the following year was enticed back to work at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to teach .5 in the Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge, He Waka Hiringa where she still teaches today.

She has published extensively on Māori Language Acquisition, Karanga, Kapa Haka and Māori Leadership and also has a produced and sung on a number of published vocal recordings especially with the late Dr. Hirini Melbourne.