Tegan Porima is the first Hamilton City Libraries staff member in a vital and exciting new role engaging with Maaori in the community.
Previously a Customer Services Representative, Tegan is the Whakaahu Ratonga Maaori, with focus on providing authentic and engaging services that supports the sharing of Maatauranga Maaori (Maaori Knowledges) in our community.
Tegan’s new role is essentially a conduit, creating relationships with Tangata Whenua, Maataawaka and whanau Maaori to connect the community with Te Ao Maaori (Maaori world). Through a collaborative process the libraries can facilitate the design and delivery of services which supports the needs of Maaori in our community.
“I’m prepared to reach out to our Taangata Whenua, for example, and ask ‘what do you need from us?’, ‘how can we develop our services better to deliver to our people?’. I’ve got a bit of planning to do before I start and intend to have some rewarding and informative conversations to deliver for our community.
“The work I do and my engagement with these communities doesn’t have to be fast-paced but long lasting – I want my work to be sustainable and meaningful for people.”
Literacy is a vital aspect of Tegan’s new role, which will also deal with the opportunities presented by the digital space. Using digital platforms and expanding into a larger well-being piece are some aspects of a role.
“We need to be breaking down barriers to help increase the capability of our people to prosper in their lives,” she says. “We want people to feel they’re actually part of the community, utilising the library in its entirety.”
Tegan, who is Waikato-Tainui, says the new role delivers her a strong sense of contribution back to her community.
“I’ve always felt my best when I am helping others. I grew up in Otorohanga and in hindsight never really saw myself represented in a lot of places, let alone an educational and learning space,” she says.
“That’s how I see myself in this role – connecting our people in a way that empowers them to find what it is they’re looking for.”
Tegan’s new position also involves supporting library network colleagues, making them feel more comfortable in using Te Reo Maaori in the workplace.
Despite being a self-described “shy kid”, Tegan says she always had a thirst for knowledge and inquisitive nature.
“I’ve always wanted to work in libraries – I’ve loved libraries since I was a kid,” she says.
She studied Maaori and Pacific Development at The University of Waikato, which will inform her work as Whakaahu Ratonga Maaori.
“Through my studies, I had to find those information pathways, find those resources or information – I’m a person who, if there is something I need, I will try my utmost to locate the information to obtain it, however not everyone has that sensibility,” she says.
It’s a quality she aims to share in her new professional role: “Even though we (Hamilton City Libraries) might not have all the answers, we can definitely guide you to where you can get them.”
Tegan says continual development of her own Te Reo Maaori is key part of her approach to and learning in the role. She has regular contact with her five-year-old niece who shares her name, and that gives her a chance to share and converse in a living language with someone of a different generation.
“I’m finding I am as much a student of Te Reo Maaori as she is, and it’s priceless to be able to share that with her.”