Ashley Hemara

Ashley Hemara

Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Latin America, Indigenous Rights & Histories in Brazil


I te taha o toku papa

Ko Tainui Te Waka 

Ko Pirongia raua ko kakepuku te Maunga 

Ko Te Kotahitanga te Marae

Ko Ngati Maniapoto te iwi 

I te taha o toku mama

Ko Tokomaru te waka 

Ko Taranaki te maunga 

Ko Owae te marae

Ko Ngati Rahiri te hapu 

Ko Te Atiawa te iwi

Ko Ashley Wehi Teringitanga ahau. 

Kia Ora Koutou katoa, 

What a ride! Born and Bred in a little town in the heart of the King Country, Te Kuiti. Growing up playing on the bowls and pipes of the Te Kuiti skatepark, who would have thought I would end up where I am today? 

Growing up with the statistics stacked against me (who even makes those anyway), I was never meant to succeed; I was meant to tick all the western checklists of a stereotypical Maori. I grew up wanting to be less Maori because I knew in my mind that if I acted Maori, I was destined to be another statistic. I guess that’s what internalised racism looks like.

Looking back, It was not a battle against the races but a battle against my own mindset. I needed to break free from those damaging thoughts and learn that I was in charge of my journey. Thank goodness we are breaking free from those shackles I put on myself. I never understood what my father meant when he would say, “the world is your oyster,” but I knew it must have meant I could be something great because everyone in my family thought oysters were great! A whakatauki I hold close to this very day (even though I don’t like oysters). 

I have learnt that it takes hard work and perseverance to get what you want – a warning I didn’t get when I first enrolled at The University of Auckland. I am the first in my family to complete a degree which meant I was paving the way for the generations after me. 

My whanau are now the proud owners of a Bachelor of Laws completed at one of the 100th top-ranked Universities in the world, the University of Auckland. As Drake sings, “started from the bottom now we here, started from the bottom now my whole team here”. You will get used to my cringe song drops; I am notorious for getting words wrong, so enjoy the remixes. 

My main takeaway from this journey to date is “just keep on going,”  don’t compare your journey to those around you and go at your own pace. Understand that you will face challenges, heartache, loss and gains through your journey, but the key is to just keep going! (oooh, and maybe don’t procrastinate). As my daughter would say, “just send it”. 

I am looking forward to taking you with me to travel to Brazil to connect with our indigenous brothers and sisters. 

Let us open our eyes, hearts and minds and immerse ourselves into the culture of our indigenous whanau to gain perspective and learn. 

Let us continue to hold spaces in Te Ao. 


Ash x 

Get ready to ride this pipe with me and get to know me more as we learn and grow together! 

(Profile picture from right to left: 

Back Row: Ronald Hemara [Popa bear], Jordon Waugh [brother-in-law] hugging Huntah Waugh [nephew], Natasha Waugh [sister] holding Pianika Waugh [Niece], Ashley Wehi Te Ringitanga [that’s me!], Bobby wehi Te Ringitanga [my husband]. 

Front row: Rayden Waugh [Nephew], Ariana-Lavainne Wehi Te Ringitanga [Daughter], Linda Hemara [Mother Hubbard] dec, Terina Hemara Paewai [Niece].)

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