Te Ani Rakete has always wanted to help people and share the experiences of his troubled youth.
“When my mother in law and sister enrolled at Otago Polytechnic, I decided to apply as well. I nearly didn’t … when it came to the police vetting, I knew there’d be issues.”
Te Ani grew up in a gang and has been in and out of prison. But he was ready to make a change, and the staff at the School of Social Services encouraged him to enrol. He started with a Certificate in Human Services.
“The academic side was hard, I’d left school at 14 years old, but the teachers helped me heaps. They’d even stay into the evening helping me in their own time.”
Te Ani got so much out of it, he came back to study for a Bachelor of Social Services.
“I’ve always been a practical person. I prefer hands-on learning to theory, but with plenty of support, I’ve actually learnt to like the academic aspects of the programme. I enjoy writing essays now!”
Inspired by his studies and desire to help people, Te Ani and his family set up “Whānau Whānui” which means ‘Extended Family’. It started with just his immediate family and has now grown to about 80 people. They focus on the whole person – promoting sport and healthy living to everyone, from children to grandparents.
Te Ani says the skills he’s learning through his Bachelor of Social Services are taking him closer to his dream: to establish a facility that caters for all aspects of life; counselling, mental health, physical health … addressing any issues someone might face in their life. This holistic approach is very much modelled from a Māori world viewpoint.
“That’s my end goal, and I can see that my studies will help me in that quest.”