Piata Allen hails from the Heretaunga Plains in Hawke's Bay, from Puketapu Maunga, Ngaruroro awa, Ngāti Hinemanu hapū of Ōmahu. During her Teacher Journey interview, Piata talked about her vision, and her desire to ‘awaken the sleeping giant of Māori potential’. In this conversation, Piata updates us with where she is at in her career.
You’ve said inspiration for your vision: “to waken the sleeping giant of Māori potential” is drawn from your tīpuna; Rongokako and Te Mata o Rongokako (the Sleeping Giant). Is this still your vision?
Āe engari kua whānui atu taku tirohanga. Kua whakahāngai kē atu ki te whānuitanga o te ao mātauranga me ōna āhuatanga katoa - ehara i te mea ki te kura noa iho. Kei te panoni haere ngā āhuatanga i roto i ngā kura nō reira me whakawhānui te tirohanga, ka tika.
What does the “sleeping giant of Māori potential” mean?
It’s about challenging yourself to do better, to be better, to keep learning and to keep growing. We all have potential that is yet to be realised. It is about being honest about the limitations we accept without challenge. My tipuna, Rongokako, was a risk-taker. He is well-known for the challenges he undertook and overcame. He is the example I follow and use as the foundation of my personal ‘vision’ – to continually challenge myself to take risks in my career; to realise my potential and the potential of others.
Which values are highlighted through your vision?
Ko te whanaungatanga, te mahi ngātahi, me te manaakitanga. E tika ana kia aro atu ki te tamaiti, ki te whānau, ki te hapū me te iwi. Kua hāngai hoki ngā uara ki ngā āhuatanga e whakawhanake nei i te hauora o te iwi - ā-hinengaro, ā-wairua, ā-tinana hoki. Ko te tīmatanga pea, kia mātua mōhio tātou ki a tātou anō.
How have your career opportunities to date helped to achieve the realisation of your vision?
First, I have been very fortunate, in my career, to have worked with amazing, talented people who I call visionaries. He pouārahi, he pou tautoko rātou mōku. Ko tāku noa he whai i ā rātou tauira. Kua noho ahau hei pia, hei kaitautoko hoki i ā rātou mahi. Second, in the past, I have been really keen to take up any opportunity or challenge that has been offered. Over time, I have become more selective about what I get involved in. I believe that has come about by knowing my strengths and weaknesses and wanting to align myself with others that share similar values. By doing this I believe that my vision is always at the forefront of my journey.
How has your vision supported your career planning, for example the decisions you’ve made throughout your career?
I think I have consistently made decisions to push myself beyond my comfort zone, just like Rongokako. I continue to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of my learning communities and to realise the potential within. Establishing the Māori Faculty - Te Wao Nui o Tiriwa at Massey High School was part of that, as was pursuing post-grad study at the University of Auckland, and now lecturing in the Māori-medium Teacher Education programme. There is always more to do, more to learn, more to understand and discover. I think accepting ‘ok’ and ‘good enough’ can be a barrier to realising potential, while wanting more can be looked down on as having ideas above your station. But that kind of thinking drives me to do more!
Have your career decisions and opportunities helped you in designing a future-focused approach to education?
At this stage, I am involved in writing and testing the Hangarau Matihiko curriculum content. Also, I am designing an app for teaching pāngarau in te reo Māori. I am always looking for the potential of new technologies and learning new ways of teaching to enhance our distinctive ‘Māoriness’ in the world. At this stage, it is unclear exactly how Hangarau Matihiko will impact on language and culture revitalisation in the long term. Some are skeptical, and cautious of possible negative impacts. I think this is a unique time to really explore and push the limits of digital technology to discover its potential as a tool in the Māori world. One idea I have is around ‘artificial intelligence’ and language parenting. How awesome would it be to have the opportunity to access a native speaking (or native-like) virtual language parent, to help develop your reo at your pace? So much potential!
Where to next?
He pātai pai tēnā. Tērā pea ko ngā kaupapa kua kōrerotia, ka whanakehia, ka ea. At this stage I am working towards a PhD that looks at the benefits of using digital technology in the pāngarau classroom to encourage communication in te reo Māori.
Heoi anō, kei te huri tonu te ao. Kua tipu ake hoki aku whakaaro ki ōku ake. He pai tonu kia puta atu i te kāinga ki te ako, ki te whakapakari i aku pūkenga. Heoi, e tika ana kia hoki atu te wahine nei kia tākoha atu ngā mea kua akongia. Ka waiho mā ngā tīpuna ahau e ārahi.
What tips or advice do you have for others who are looking for inspiration to create their vision?
Ko te hononga ki tō ake tūrangawaewae, he mea whakahihiri i a koe. Kei tō kāinga, kei tō iwi ngā tauira.