Te Punaka Ōwheo (TPO) is Otago Polytechnic's dedicated Māori ākonga support office. TPO provides Māori learners with a dedicated space, and a range of services, support and advice. Our goal is to help ākonga feel safe and included at OP, so that you can get the most out of your time here.

The name Te Punaka Ōwheo is a metaphor for the student journey. Punaka means shelter and Ōwheo is the name of the Leith River. We understand that sometimes the waters might be turbulent, and our kaiāwhina are here to support and advocate for our Māori ākonga as they navigate the journey of life-long learning.

TPO can help with student support and advice, wellbeing, computer skills, StudyLink support, cultural identity, hardship support and advice and much more. Our people are warm and friendly, so feel free to drop by to say hello, have a chat, or to find a positive and comfy community space.

Every Wednesday TPO puts on kai at Poho, the Māori common room, which is a great opportunity to meet fellow Māori learners and staff, grab a bite, and relax.  

For new Māori ākonga, a pōwhiri at the beginning of the semester provides a formal welcome and a chance for learners and their families to meet and connect with our staff. On the first day each semester all first-year students are invited to attend a mihi whakatau in the Atrium to be welcomed and settled into OP. Both events provide a chance to build connections with other ākonga, become familiar with members of staff, and to feel at home at Otago Polytechnic. 

March sees the introduction of the peer mentoring programme Tuakana Teina. The programme takes the concept of younger and older siblings into the educational context—Tuakana Teina introduces a new learner to an experienced learner for mentoring. Based in the principles of whanaungatanga, this mentoring aims to increase the confidence of participants and offer opportunities for two-way learning, identifying leadership potential and development of new skills.

TPO hosts many events throughout the year. Keep an eye out for these upcoming celebrations:

  • Hāngī four times each year
  • Matariki in July
  • Te Rau o Tītapu—Māori pre-graduation in September

If you aren’t already following Te Pūkana Ōwheo on Facebook or Instagram, you should be. The team provides insights into student life, upcoming events, and what TPO has to offer. Best of all you’ll get to see Tereinamu’s smiling face!

Come visit us at the HUB near the Union Street East entrance or at Poho across the road from the hockey field. You can also reach us at tepunakaowheo@op.ac.nz

Kylie Hohaia-Osborne (Tainui, Taranaki) is a Kaiāwhina Tauira Māori, and has been at Otago Polytechnic for six years.


I te taha o tōku pāpā.

Ko taupiri te maunga.

Ko Waikato me Awaroa ngā awa.

Ko Tainui te waka.

Ko Tapaue rāua ko whāwhākia ōku mātou tupuna.

Ko Tainui/Waikato ngā iwi.

Ko Ngai te Ata, Ngāti Whāwhākia me Te kauri ngā marae.


I te taha o tōku māmā.

Ko Taranaki te maunga.

Ko waiaua te awa.

Ko Kurahaupo te waka.

Ko Tuwhakararo rāua ko Rangimoeke ōku mātou tupuna.

Ko Taranaki te iwi.

Ko Ngāti Tamarongo te hapū.

Ko orimupiko te Marae.

Ko Kylie tōku ingoa.


“I love seeing our learners’ success at the end of the year. I bring a maternal instinct and a lot of care towards our students to my work, and I enjoy getting to know all the students. As a proud parent and as someone who studies part-time while working, I understand the challenges of balancing life’s many commitments.”

Max McKenzie (Te Aitanga a Māhaki) is a Kaiāwhina Tauira Māori and has been at OP for half a year.


Ko Takitimu te waka.

Ko Waipawa te awa.

Ko Maungahaumi te maunga.

Ko Takipu te Marae.

Ko Te Aitanga a Mahaki te iwi.

Ko te Whānau a Taupara te hapū.

Ko Mahaki te tangata.

Ko Max McKenzie ahau.


“I feel everyone is dancing to their own rhythm until we embrace each other’s vibrations. I am the father of three boys and my wife runs two food businesses. I enjoy seeing our tauira graduate, and I love making sure they get everything they need to keep them going!”

Woody Woods (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Ranginui, Te Arawa) is both a Kaiāwhina Tauira Māori and a lecturer in the Information Technologies department.


Ko Motatau rāua ko Maunganui ōku Maunga, 

Ko Kaikou rāua ko Wairoa ōku Awa,  

Ko Mātaatua rāua ko Tākitimu ōku Waka, 

Ko Tau Henare rāua ko Huria ōku Marae, 

Ko Ngāpuhi rāua ko Ngāti Ranginui ōku Iwi, 

Ko Ngāti Hine rāua ko Ngāi Tamarāwaho ōku Hapū, 

Ko Woody tōku ingoa.   

“As a Kaiāwhina in Te Punaka Ōwheo, I take great pride in my role of helping wherever I can. I'm also an I.T. lecturer that believes in creating an inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone. I grew up in Manurewa, South Auckland and moved with my family (wife and two daughters) to Ōtepoti Dunedin in 2015. Whether it's offering a helping hand or a listening ear, I am always ready to go the extra mile to make a difference.”  

Tereinamu Hakopa (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa) has the roles of Kaiāwhina Tauira Māori and Kaitakawaeka Māori at Otago Polytechnic and is a bubbly presence on social media.


Mai i Maketu ki Tongariro ko Te Arawa waka.

Ko Tongariro te maunga.

Ko Taupo te moana.

Ko Te Heuheu tonu te tangata.

Ko Ngāti Tūwharetoa te iwi.

Ko Tapeka te marae.

Ko Turumakina te hapū.

Ko Tereinamu Hakopa ahau.


“What do I bring to the role? My face! I work on the Marketing, Communications and Engagement team as well as at TPO so I am easily recognised around campus. I love both my teams and feel fortunate to work in two aspects of our students’ journey. I enjoy listening to people’s stories, whanaungatanga, events that gather people together and connecting people. I enjoy the cultural aspects of my mahi, such as kaiarahi waiata, or leading the songs.”

Frank Edwards (Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa, Tuhoe, Kai Tahu) is the Tumuaki at Te Punaka Ōwheo, leading the remarkable TPO team to support Māori learners.


Ko Whakapunake te maunga

Ko Wairoa te awa

Ko Takitimu te waka


Ko Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa rātou ko Tuhoe, ko Kai Tahu ōku iwi

Ko Rangiāhua te marae

Ko Tamaterangi te tangata

Ko Frank Erueti tōku ingoa.


“Every morning I start the day off with a karakia in the atrium at the beautiful greenstone, Kōhatu.  All staff and learners are welcome, and it is a great way to start off the day and learn waiata.

I ensure that my team is fully equipped and resourced to support our ākonga from pre-enrolment through to graduation. It is a humbling privilege to be a part of the learner’s journey and to witness the transformation and potential of our Māori graduates. It certainly reflects the whakatauki: Ko te pae tawhiti whāia kia tata, ko te pae tata whakamaua ka tīna.”

Published on 10 May 2023

Orderdate: 10 May 2023
Expiry: 10 May 2025