EPeeps Te Rau-o-te-Rangi Winterburn | Head of Kaupapa Māori

Every once in a while, the stars align and a seismic shift takes place, shattering the previous paradigm, and reassembling the pieces into a whole that was inconceivable prior. Without hyperbole, such was the case with Te Rau joining the folds of the company, shifting its trajectory in a profound way. For the first time in its history, EP leaned into the culture of Aotearoa, tapping into the mana and mythologies so ripe in the soil of our home, our whenua, this place we call Ōtepoti/Dunedin.

Without further ado, a very special EPeeps article, our Head of Kaupapa Māori, Te Rau!

Tēnā koutou katoa e pānui nei i ēnei kōrero mōku. 

My name is Te Rau-o-te-Rangi Winterburn. I was born and raised, for the earlier part of my life, in Ōtaki, but spent my teenage years growing up in Dunedin. I identify as Māori, and affiliate to the following iwi: Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa. Following high school, I trained in primary teaching and have a degree specialising in Level 1 immersion (Māori-medium). I also have qualifications in Mātauranga Māori & Te Reo Māori. I am also a qualified real estate agent. 

My whānau and I currently reside in Ōtautahi (Christchurch). My fiance’s name is Alana and we have a 4 month old baby boy named Tāwhiri-Rangi, who is being raised bilingual. 

I have active interests in education, Māori culture, the care and preservation of our natural environment & native animals, NZ history, fitness and wellbeing – but my true passion would lie in the performing arts – in particular, musical theatre. I have professionally performed lead roles in numerous shows throughout NZ including Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables, Joseph, The Little Shop of Horrors, Oklahoma!, Grease, just to name a few! I also compose, record and perform my own original music which ranges from acoustic/folk-pop to R&B/Hip-Hop. 

Why become an EPeep?

Before transitioning into EP as the Head of Kaupapa Māori, I used the EP platform in class with my students and found the technology extremely effective. The lessons were highly engaging, and the general use of the platform is fantastic! While teaching, I often thought of the potential scope that the platform could have in regards to sharing & teaching Te Reo Māori nationwide. This is what ultimately brought me to work for the company.

Most excited about

In my personal life, my son is what makes me the most excited! Seeing him develop and achieve regular milestones, passing on our Māori language and cultural practices to him with the knowledge he will not struggle to know his ancestral language and culture. In my work life, I am truly excited about the impact my contribution to our Māori content and the kura we service will have in the long term. This is what drives me. Knowing that our resources, platform and personnel are assisting with the normalisation of our national taonga.

Why is Te Wiki o Te Reo important to you?

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is important to me because, for these seven days of the year, Te Reo Māori is centre stage and actively used and celebrated throughout the country. For me personally and our whānau, the beauty, importance and use of Te Reo Māori is not isolated to one particular week in the year, and we have worked hard, and are committed to using it daily, every day of the year. The wawata, the hope or dream, is that one day our children throughout the country will effortlessly be able to converse with each other in either Te Reo Māori or English and that they will be exceptionally proud of our national language and taonga.

How has the mahi (work) you’ve completed at EP so far helped to shape the competition and courses that students and teachers now have access to?

I have dedicated my life to Te Reo Māori and educating anyone who is genuinely interested in developing their own knowledge of our national language. Over the years I have committed myself to learning and using our reo at the highest levels. 

The new content that is created and used for our akoranga (courses) and whakataetae (competitions) is based on the needs and requests of our kaiako (teachers) and aimed to be of the highest quality to ensure that what is being shared with our users, our tamariki in particular, is as accurate as possible. On-going updates and tweaks based on user feedback ensures that our lessons and content are continually being improved upon.

You’re new to parenthood! Tell us how it’s been going

Parenthood is amazing! When people tell you it will change your life forever, that is a complete understatement! It changes everything! But, man, is it worth it! 

As passionate educators (my fiance Alana is also a primary teacher), it is so rewarding to be able to share your knowledge, values and passions with your own tamaiti (child). Our boy Tāwhiri-Rangi is already showing signs of his love of language, words, music, animals, people and it warms our hearts immensely to see his entire body light up when he experiences these joys in life. We are both excited about his future and very mindful of the part he will play in contributing to a positive world. 

Tell us your favourite teacher/student story

My favourite and most influential teacher was a wahine by the name of Āwhina Gray. She taught me Māori while in year 7 & 8 and then later for Years 12 & 13. Whaea Āwhina had a beautiful way about her. She was quiet in nature, but had a strong disposition. She was hugely inspirational, but never enforced her expectations. She was a fluent and beautiful speaker of Te Reo Māori at a time where it was rare to have a teacher as young as her, being so proficient. She always saw the good and potential in her students & supported us, no matter what! Many of us who were fortunate enough to have been taught by her have gone on to achieve some amazing things, both within our careers and in life. I can definitely say, she was the inspiration and encouragement for me becoming a teacher, and to this day, I am very grateful. 

After teaching for a few years, I tracked Whaea Āwhina down, visiting her and her whānau on their wee farm. I told her how much of an inspiration she was to me, and that I had become a teacher specialising in Māori. She was deeply moved, and I could tell this was probably one of the first times that a past student of hers had made such an effort to express their thanks to her. This is the thing, teaching in general is a thankless job, but those who commit their lives to the profession never seek accolades, even when they are due. But there is no doubt about it, when a past student does reach out and expresses their thanks and shares their story, it makes all the challenges of teaching 100% worth it! Last I heard, she worked for the Ministry of Education. Nō rātou te whiwhi! 

If you could have been present at an historical event, what would it be?

The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. To see and hear with my own eyes and ears the true and undisputed accounts of what transpired that day.

What book, movie, band has been a big influence on you?

The H.W Williams Dictionary of the Māori Language lol. Seriously though, most Māori language books or online learning resources and books on NZ and Iwi history. 

Movies: Too many movies to name, but I love Marvel movies, Disney and musicals, fantasies like Avatar and Star Wars & documentaries about the planet, history or famous people. 

Music: I have a vast love of music and artists, many of which have had an influence on me. I listen to a range of genres including; R&B, Pop, Musical Theatre, Waiata Māori and Rock. One NZ artist I really respect is Stan Walker. I love how he has fully embraced his Māoritanga and proudly displays our culture to the world. I also think he has an exceptional voice and is a great role model for our rangatahi (youth).

What’s one thing that surprised you when you began working at Education Perfect?

How big the company actually is and how epic HQ in Dunedin is! The warmth and welcome I felt from our EPeeps when I first started and the unconditional support the company expresses in times of tragedy, challenges and personal celebration.

What’s in the pipeline for Te Ao Māori?

My content priorities are largely based on teacher needs and demands. More lessons on cultural practices, NZ history, myths and legends, grammar and specific curriculum-focused lessons (i.e: Pāngarau) are in the pipeline as well as higher level immersion material for our Kura Kaupapa Māori.

Anything else you like to add? (What to expect on the platform, social media pages to share? Something you want to recommend people to watch/listen/read etc)

I’d recommend watching The Treaty of Waitangi – What Really Happened! (7 part mini movie on Youtube). 

Please come and join our EP Te Ao Māori page on Pukamata (Facebook) at: https://www.facebook.com/EP-Te-Ao-M%C4%81ori-for-Home-114677020239869

And to conclude, a whakataukī (proverb) that I really like:

‘Ka hou ki te whenua he tūngoungou, ka puta ki te rangi he pepe!’

A pupa enters the earth, a beautiful butterfly emerges to the sky!

A metaphor for the development of the body, mind and soul. 

Beginning humbly on earth we later reach for the skies.

Ngā mihi nui for your time and kōrero today, Te Rau!