Hinemoa Williams

Hinemoa Williams

Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia, Global Internship in Vietnam


Kia Ora!

Ko Tongariro te maunga.

(Tongariro is my mountain.)

Ko Taupō-nui-ātea te moana.

(Taupō is my lake.) 

Ko Te Arawa te waka. 

(Te Arawa is my canoe.)

Ko Ngāti Tūwharetoa te iwi.

(Tūwharetoa is my tribe.)

Ko Ngāti Manunui te hapū. 

(Ngāti Manunui is my sub-tribe.)

Ko Pūkawa te marae. 

(Pūkawa is my marae.)

Ko Te Heuheu Iwikau te tūpuna. 

Ko Hinemoa Williams te ingoa. 

(My names is Hinemoa Williams.)

“Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini.” 

“My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success but the success of a collective.” 

My name is Hinemoa, and I am honoured and excited to be going to Vietnam this coming January. I am currently studying to be a primary school teacher at the University of Auckland and am passionate about working with and helping our future tamariki. 

In addition to this, I am also passionate about my culture, being Māori, Pasifika, and European. What culture means to me is the unique essence of beauty in the different cultural communities I am surrounded by. I ponder on the integral role my culture has played in shaping my identity and purpose in the world I live in and look forward to learning about the rich culture of Vietnam on my trip. In my career, I am passionate about teaching people the beauty of our culture in Aotearoa as Tangata Whenua and learning about other communities’ diverse history and tikanga. 

My name ‘Hinemoa’ originates from Rotorua and the ancient love story of ‘Hinemoa and Tūtānekai’. This legend is about forbidden love and the lengths we go to for the people we love. The story of ‘Hinemoa and Tūtāekai’ regards how Hinemoa swam across a lake following nothing but the sound of Tūtānekai and his flute in the night-time to guide her to be in his presence. Hinemoa is brave and displays the strength of her love for Tūtānekai by swimming across the lake to be with him. 

I acknowledge the beauty in the history of my name and how it has guided me on my path in life. My brother and I swam competitively for New Zealand in my younger years. Some of my best childhood memories are of my cousins and me swimming in lake Taupō for days on end and only returning home for kai. I now feel deeply grateful in adulthood for having experienced this connection with my moana and whānau. Lake Tapuō is my home away from home; it is where I go to when I need to feel replenished from the stresses of life in the city, it is a place that grounds me as my feet lay on the same whenua of my ancestors that have come before me, and it is a place of connection where I go with the ones that I hold closest to my heart, my family. In adulthood, I have been honoured with educating communities about water safety and working with tamariki teaching them water safety skills. 

This connection to water is a path I will follow in Vietnam by setting up water safety projects for children in Vietnam. What I am looking forward to the most about this experience is learning about Vietnamese culture and the cultural history and traditions they hold close to their hearts. I look forward to teaching them my knowledge of our history and culture, and most of all, I look forward to the diverse range of people I will go on to meet.