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Puawai Taiapa-Aporo Puawai Taiapa-Aporo BMVA

Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Kauwhata, Rakahanga (Cook Islands)

Television Presenter

From art student to television presenter, Massey University graduate Puawai Taiapa-Aporo) has found her groove, thanks to her Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts (BMVA).

Puawai says her BMVA has given her the confidence to express herself and taken her to places not even she imagined at the beginning of her studies. “When I started I was really passionate about painting but the course offers other art forms like photography and media studies. Over the years my passion changed as I started creating videos.”

Now Puawai is one of the presenters on iconic youth TV show Pukana and has a growing online audience for her ‘Hey Puawai’ videos. But she credits her success to the course that awakened her passion for performance art.

“The amazing lecturers have open minds about different whakaaro, different types of work and you’re appreciated for your ideas. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the BMVA… the skills to express myself and the confidence and passion I’ve gained in my art and in where I come from, in my pepeha.”

Puawai’s passion for performance was nurtured from kura and through her years with Te Piringa Kapa Haka group in Palmerston North. But the BMVA would develop her understanding of performance as art. “When I was learning all these different art forms like photography, carving, media studies it was great because it kind of expanded my passion. I came out of the four year course loving media studies and I never knew I would.”

Being able to develop her love of Māori tikanga was also a big draw for Puawai. “Professor Bob Jahnke took us to a lot of different marae and I learned about the techniques our ancestors used in carvings and got to touch base on where we come from. I guess we’re the next generation to create something new.”

While Puawai had considered becoming an art teacher after graduating in 2015, an opportunity to work on Pukana on Māori Television came up. “Last year was a big life change – moving to Auckland away from family and starting a new job. I still have so much to learn so doing another year with Pukana this year will be great.– I’m just looking forward to taking every opportunity” And there are many opportunities on the horizon.

The ‘Hey Puawai’ facebook page, which features Puawai’s move into comedy videos, has gained thousands of followers in just a year and then there’s the possibility of a reality TV show.

A talented singer, Puawai was also one of the artists involved in last year’s hit te reo song ‘Maimoatia’ which pushed Justin Timberlake off the top of the NZ iTunes chart. Puawai also performed at the national kapa haka championships this year with the Hatea team from Whangarei.

For students thinking about the BMVA course Puawai’s advice is simple come with an open mind and be prepared have your horizon expanded.

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