Varshini Suresh has been an intern with us for approximately six weeks and is due to leave us today hopefully with a range of skills and work experience in her pocket that will be beneficial for the future.
It’s not only work experience that Varshini will take from Te Puni Kōkiri she says, it’s also a greater understanding of our Māori culture and how staff of Te Puni Kōkiri use it in everything we do and in everyday life.
“Learning more about tikanga Māori has been a wonderful experience. I knew of some aspects of Māori culture as I’ve been in New Zealand for 14 years but being able to see tikanga Māori in action has made me realise that my Indian culture is very similar to the Māori culture. This is probably why I felt so comfortable working at Te Puni Kōkiri,” revealed Varshini.
Varshini explained that both Māori and Indian cultures enjoy sharing food and often use it as a way to socialise and connect with family and friends.
“Mum is an Indian Classical music teacher so we are always having people around or we are amongst the Indian community playing music, and there is always lots of food and talking,” she explains smiling.
Another similarity between Māori and Indian is the way we care for our elderly.
“Māori look after their kaumātua like we take care of our elderly. In Indian culture it is the responsibility of the family to look after their elders. We, as Māori do, take up this task out of love and respect for our older family members.”
Varshini was actually born in Dubai where her father worked as an IT Technician. A friend of the family suggested New Zealand as a place to raise Varshini and her brother Sujay. They were accepted and were on a flight within the month.
“It was all very sudden,” Varshini said. “We were in Auckland for a month or so but we weren’t really comfortable there so a friend told us to move to Wellington and we have loved it from the beginning.”
“I prefer New Zealand much more to Dubai. In New Zealand we can mingle and socialise more amongst all types of people and cultures. In Dubai it’s very hierarchical and separated.”
Varshini is studying Law and Business at Victoria University of Wellington and she also has half of an Arts degree which she will finish one day. Sujay is studying Science at Victoria.
“I’m in my last full year of University and receiving this internship has been really beneficial. I’, interested in property law and recently did a paper on Māori Customary Law. I have been working on Te Ture Whenua Māori reforms and interacting with the Māori community which has been amazing.”
“I also discovered a group of staff who were doing salsa dancing at lunch times so I’ve been joining in because I love dancing.”
“I have enjoyed my time here at Te Puni Kōkiri so much. Everyone is so helpful and passionate about the work. Thank you so much Policy team for giving me this opportunity.”