"I think I learnt a lot about other cultures and myself. It’s quite different just learning a language to being totally immersed in it."
Taranaki and Tainui
International travel ranks highly in Kahurangi’s future plans for when she completes her Honours degree in Political Science at UC. ‘I want to understand how the world works, why things happen and what will happen tomorrow,’ she says.
Studying Political Science was not Kahurangi’s first choice, as she knew very little about the subject. However after taking a first year course at UC, she soon found it to be an unrealised passion. ‘I have the optimistic view that politics can bring about positive change, so maybe it will lead me down a road which will allow me to contribute to society in an effective manner.’
It was her love of discovering new places that brought her south to study in the ‘Garden City’ in the first place, following five cousins that had graduated from UC.
‘I didn’t really know anyone apart from my cousins,’ she says. ‘But I really liked how the campus was all in one area. It was something new, something different.’
Keen to give back after her start at UC, Kahurangi became a Māori Student Mentor to help other Māori students begin what can be a daunting first year. ‘I really like the thought of helping someone get onto their feet because as a new student (regardless of age) it can be really overwhelming stepping into the university environment.
‘Māori students in particular may face issues of identity (where do I fit in this?), especially as the Māori presence is relatively small on campus, and also issues of confidence (am I good enough to be here?). It is important to realise that these may be questions they ask throughout life, but it definitely helps in knowing there are people who understand and will help them succeed.’
Born in New Plymouth, her family moved to Hamilton and Waiouru before Kahurangi returned to boarding school in New Plymouth. After leaving school she spent a year in Spain as an exchange student, where she had a chance to develop her Spanish language skills.
‘I think I learnt a lot about other cultures and myself,’ she says. ‘It’s quite different just learning a language to being totally immersed in it.’
She hopes the broad nature of her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political science, for which she has taken courses in media studies and languages, will open the door to a job in the political arena.
Her interest in languages and European history in particular has fuelled her plans to travel, with France, Italy, Turkey and South America top of the list.