Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Scholarship recipient profile series

Issue: Volume 93, Number 5

Posted: 24 March 2014
Reference #: 1H9cta

Since 1948, the Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund Board has acknowledged young Māori achievers and supported them to become Māori leaders of tomorrow.

In upcoming issues of Education Gazette, we will be profiling some of the successful applicants from 2013 to help teachers get an idea of the type of inspirational young people who have been deemed worthy of the legacy of bravery and sacrifice handed down to all New Zealanders by Second Lieutenant Te-Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu and the 28th (Māori) Battalion.

We’ll also be profiling some Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Scholarship recipients of yesteryear and talking to them about the different cultural landscape that they grew up in, and the wisdom they have to share with today’s young Māori.

Jamie Huia Rolleston: Designing a change in the language landscape

Iwi: Ngāti Whakaue

Studying: Master of Arts (te reo Māori), University of Waikato

It doesn’t take long when speaking with Jamie Rolleston to get the strong impression that she’s very driven to connect as deeply as possible with her Māori heritage.

Te reo Māori is a second language to Jamie, though she had contact with the language of her ancestors through her grandfather; clearly he made an impact on Jamie, who is now studying for a Master of Arts in te reo Māori at the University of Waikato. The benefits of her new connection to the language of her people go way beyond mere fluency, she says.

“I was probably part of the generation that didn’t have as much access to that [te reo Māori] knowledge. As a second language learner, I feel that in a way I’ve been saved by te reo Māori. It changed my life in a very positive way. I see my culture as something that I can use to help others foster positive change in their lives, too. It really filled a big gap in my life, which I didn’t even realise was there for a long time.

“I want to promote te reo Māori any way I can.”

Te reo Māori permeates many aspects of Jamie’s life beyond study. As a recent young mother of one, she’s determined that the language becomes an intrinsic part of her family’s life and plans to encourage others to join her. To that end, she has recently started a web-based business with a difference.

“It’s just becoming a business really. I make baby clothes, and instead of having those cute phrases like ‘Mum’s little cutie’ or ‘I’m a little monster’ in English on them, we have Māori phrases. They’ve been really popular so far. It’s just a little thing, but I like to think that it changes the way people look at a baby, and my hope is that parents and whānau might be inspired to speak in te reo Māori to tamariki.”

Clothes are just the beginning. Jamie has plans to get people speaking te reo Māori through various resources for the home that are at present just good ideas: she illustrates the concept by asking us to imagine one of those toys on which a child presses a button, but instead of the robot voice saying something like, ‘red, yellow, green,’ instead it says ‘whero, kōwhai, kākāriki.’ In other words, she wants nothing less than to help change the language landscape: kids interacting with a living language in the same way that they learn English.

Jamie subscribes passionately to the idea that receiving support means one is obligated to pass it on. She has been involved with Te Pua Wānanga Ki te Ao as a student mentor and tutor, an experience she says bestowed nearly as much reward her way as she hopes she was able to provide.

“Te Pua Wānanga Ki te Ao is the School of Māori and Pacific Development, and my role was to help students that were struggling, whether in their study or in their personal life. It was very hard work sometimes but very rewarding.”

A very te reo Māori household

Jamie’s partner happens also to be a Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Scholarship recipient; Kiharoa Milroy was featured on these pages last year. They are both committed to sharing with others the joy and sense of completion that they say their culture has brought to their lives; this manifests in the language classes that they both teach, designed for parents and others who want to learn te reo Māori at a beginners level.

What do you think is the key to success in life’s endeavours, particularly for young Māori?

“I think it’s two things. Firstly, it’s whānau. Although I’ve had a lot of successes over the course of my academic career, I’ve probably had just as many failures. My whānau have always been instrumental in helping me get back up, and in teaching me that we all fall over sometimes, but just because you’re down you don’t have to stay there.”

What would you say to a young student of your iwi who hadn’t yet found the courage to pursue their ambitions?

“I would say: figure out what you love because you’re never going to succeed if you don’t love what you’re doing. And never listen to those who tell you that you can’t do whatever you want.”

Students at your school can take on the challenge

A new competition to continue the living legacy of Ngārimu VC and the 28th (Māori) Battalion is now open to Year 7 to 13 Māori students.

The competition, called The Challenge, is an opportunity for students to keep the Battalion’s legacy alive using 21st Century technology and to reflect on the triumphs and tragedies of the Battalion’s brave young men.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cassino. Students are invited to create a short film, musical composition, graphic novel, essay or other presentation about that battle, as if they are contributing a piece for a new museum.

Year 7 to 13 Māori students can submit individual or small group entries in either English or Māori. An overall prize of $1500 will help to publish the most outstanding entry. Cash prizes will also be awarded to category winners. Entries close 19 September 2014.

For more information visit the Ministry of Education website: or email

BY Jaylan Boyle
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:03 pm, 24 March 2014

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