Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Aucklanders & Other Kiwis Blog


Te Ra Keno - a local young professional making her mark in Tauranga Moana.
10 November 2020
Te Ra Keno - a local young professional making her mark in Tauranga Moana.

Te Ra is the Kaiwhakatere Matihiko - Regional Coordinator for Digital Innovation for Toi Kai Rawa which is the Māori Economic Development Trust for the Bay of Plenty. She is driven and passionate and an incredible role model for other rangatahi (young People) in Tauranga Moana. We caught up with her to find out her story:

Te Ra can you tell us about yourself, where are you from and what are your connections to Tauranga Moana?

I am originally from Tauranga my Iwi, Hapu and Marae are all here my marae is Maungatapu which is beautiful!

I went to school at Te Wharekura o Mauao and was head girl there in 2016. It is an awesome kura (school) that I am really proud to be a part of. This year Te Wharekura o Mauao celebrates its tenth anniversary. I’m very grateful to have attended that kura, met great people and most importantly learned te reo Māori me ōna tikanga (Māori language).

Ever since I was about 11 years old I have wanted to be a lawyer so after school I went to Victoria University in Wellington to study law. After being in Kura Kaupapa, I had a drive to use any skills and strengths I had to forward Māori. After about a year and a half I decided it wasn’t the best fit to continue my study, in all honesty, I was impatient. I returned home and began working for my Iwi, Ngāti Ranginui. I came full circle, the team I had my first work experience with in 2015 was the team that I started working for in 2018.

In 2020 I started working for Toi Kai Rawa as the Regional Coordinator for Digital Innovation. Awhina Ngatuere is the General Manager of Toi Kai Rawa, she has been an incredible mentor to me and I believe integral to my success so far.  

What are you excited about achieving in your role?

Digital innovation is our reality now, it is the way the world is moving, and we need to be prepared. To be able to prepare Māori for this is exciting and I know this is a space where my work is meaningful. In saying that, any work I can do in the Māori space is always fulfilling and I’m grateful for the opportunities this work provides. 

What is your favourite thing about living in Tauranga?

The Moana! The ocean, the beaches, the estuary the bodies of water that are around Tauranga make this place unique. From Waikōrire (Pilot Bay) to the Wairoa river, there’s something so soothing about being surrounded by flowing water. I spent most of my childhood around water, whether it was picking pipi on the Paritaha (Pipi bed near Pilot Bay) or doing bombs off the rocks at Poripori (Creek near Kaimai ranges). It’s an inherent connection we as inhabitants of this land have with our environment. When I was in Wellington, I’d feel most at home and at peace near the water. Our maunga Mauao is also an incredible part of Tauranga Moana, I remember staring at it one day and thinking how unique we are to have a giant looming mountain in the middle of the beach.

Taku moana, he moana papaku kokonga tuangi

My sea has an abundance of Tuangi

This is a kīanga (saying) from Hori Tupaea of Ngāi Te Rangi. Used in this context to describe the abundance of Tauranga, not only in Tuangi but broadly. We pride ourselves on our moana and the resources it provides.

What would you tell other rangatahi Māori about living and working in Tauranga?

I would say make the most of your turangawaewae, this is your home you will never be as strong as where your roots are. Be proactive in creating a future that you want to see, get to know what’s going on in your area, be aware of your surroundings, have a vision of where you want to be and move towards that.

Get amongst the TUIA programme as well. This is an awesome nation-wide initiative the Tauranga City Council support. Rangatahi Māori have the opportunity to be mentored by the Mayor, and attend several wānanga across the country with other rangatahi Māori from their respective councils. This year I was the TUIA representative for Tauranga City Council and sealed a position on TCC’s Youth Advisory Group. During this year I’ve learned key leadership skills in communication, connection and collaboration, and I’ve made a new whānau with TUIA.