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Rusha Paenga by Shauni van Apeldoorn

Rusha Paenga wins Te Reo Māori Special Talent Scholarship
Cosmic Sister
Special Talent Scholarship

Congratulations, Rusha Paenga (@rushapaenga), for winning a third Cosmic Sister Special Talent Scholarship to continue learning Te Reo Māori (Māori language) through the 12-week Learn Māori Abroad (@learnmaoriabroad) Intermediate Māori Language Course starting in January 2022. Māori are the Indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand).

“Learning Te Reo Māori is helping me to connect with who I am and where I belong, which makes me more confident in my Māoridom, which is truly my birthright,” says Rusha, who had negative experiences growing up as Māori and “not feeling Māori enough.”

Rusha’s goal is to become fluent so she can teach her children someday, speak to elders in Te Reo, and pass on generational knowledge. “I believe learning and becoming fluent in Te Reo will connect me with my tīpuna (ancestors), and they will guide me through this process,” she says. She also wants to learn about the history of Kapa Haka, a powerful and culturally significant Māori art form, and join a Kapa Haka team.

Based in Auckland, Rusha was born in Gisbone and raised on the coast of Maraehako Bay. She runs a female travel club, Global Girl Community (@globalgirl_community) that brings traveling women together and promotes travel and group adventures in Aotearoa.

Learn Māori Abroad (@learnmaoriabroad) was founded by Amelia Butler, a Māori dancer from Aotearoa with 20+ years of international professional experience. She also founded Ngā Ānahera Māori, a traditional Māori performance group. Her tribal affiliations are Ngātiwai, Ngāpuhi, and Ngāti Awa. “What Amelia is doing is inspiring,” Rusha says. “She’s connecting people, bringing our language to the world, educating, and doing so in such a remarkable way.”

Cosmic Sister highly recommends these courses to anyone interested in learning about Māori culture.

Love, ZOE

Photo of Rusha by Shauni van Apeldoorn (@shauniva)

December 2021