Pirini Edwards was a state ward going through boys’ homes and foster homes throughout his childhood. But it was these childhood experiences and life lessons that led him to his current mahi (work), teaching Manaaki Tāngata, Certificate in Bicultural Social Services at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
“It was never really my decision to teach the programme, it was my ancestors’ decision. I strongly believe that the best people to facilitate the kaupapa (programme) are the ones that have lived it but have genuinely changed for the better.”
Pirini admits that he was once an angry person and spent a lot of time blaming people and circumstances for the challenges he encountered throughout his early life.
Now at 65 years of age, Pirini can appreciate that he got to where he is today because he moved on from blaming and learnt the values of discipline and humility. The lessons he now passes onto his tauira.
Teaching at TWoA’s Tauranga campus, Pirini educates with the purpose of redirecting tauira (students) back to their marae or the place they see as home and where they can be of service.
“We don’t just want to produce a heap of social workers, we want them to go back into their communities and where than can be of purpose to their whānau and to their people.”
Pirini has been at TWoA for over 20 years, starting out as a tauira learning reo Māori and eventually becoming a reo Māori kaiako.
After a few years teaching te reo he was approached to become a social services kaiako and has now been in the role for over 12 years, saying he hasn’t looked back once.
Pirini has taught tauira from all walks of life but teaches them all with the same approach - keep it real and keep it simple.
He says that the only requirement for those who are ready and want to learn is to come with an open mind and open heart and be ready to both receive and give back.
“Our kaupapa here, is kaupapa Māori, it’s a healing kaupapa.”