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Meet Sylvia Tapuke

Job: 

I am an iwi-based researcher for the ECLIPSE programme.

Job description: 

I have three main parts to my role within the ECLIPSE programme:

  • To understand the health status of the Taupō Volcanic Zone through mātauranga Māori.
  • To engage iwi about any work relating to the Taupō Volcanic Zone.
  • To co-create with everyone else on the ECLIPSE team tools and approaches to communicate preparedness information about the Taupō Volcanic Zone.
Work background: 

I have been involved in education since the 1990s in all different types of places, all levels in both mainstream and Māori immersion schools, wānanga, polytechnics, College of education, university, and with urban and rural communities.

Along the way I have been doing odd jobs here and there usually connected with grassroots community, Pasifika and iwi projects. I am now working in the research arena, in particular, focusing on projects around mātauranga Māori and western science, and how these knowledge systems talk to each other.

Favourite part of job: 

I love learning about the science of the land through the stories.

A (humorous) story about a job that went badly and what you learned: 

There’s always something crazy and funny happening on some of the trips I’ve been on. Some highlights include drenched students, a suggestion that I carry out a stream velocity test in a local baby paddling pool for safety reasons, losing and finding my phone on a mountain café on an island in another country. My favourite – watching organisers repeatedly trying to do a head count while everyone is moving around at the same time. I’ve learnt that you should enjoy the journey, don’t worry and be happy!

Qualifications: 
  • Bachelor of Science
  • PG Dip Tchg (Secondary – Geography/Social Science)
  • PG Dip Māori Resource Development and Management
  • Mauri Ora – Iwi Kaiwhakaruruhau
  • Te Pinakitanga o Te Reo Māori
  • Masters in Em Mgmt
Interests outside work: 

I love being with my whānau – I have a husband Kelvin and two children who are forging their way in the world as tradies. Te Rangimarie, as an apprentice carpenter, and Kotuku, an apprentice electrician. I love going back to Waiohau and Murupara to support my whānau with their work amongst the community and iwi. I love connecting with my whānau on Facebook as well, plus I get to read about what is going on in the world and watch hardcase videos!

I am also interested in traditional and spiritual healing and health, arts and craft, and karaoke. I especially love learning about and sharing with other cultures and communities about our unique knowledge systems, and how we relate to the environment, and the many ways we express that relationship.


Sylvia is an iwi-based researcher for the ECLIPSE programme. Image: Supplied.