Young Māori women dive in

By Wena Harawira

A group of young Māori women in the Bay of Plenty are reaping the generosity of others, to learn free diving.

Three hapū, Te Ūpokorehe, Te Patuwai and Ngāi Tamapare were invited to nominate two women each for the course by Marine ecologist Dr Kura Paul-Burke of Ngāti Awa and her husband Joe Burke, who is a commercial diver and charter boat operator. 

The couple have been working with the hapū on different projects and wanted to offer young Māori women a career path they might not have otherwise considered.

"They could do marine science, they could be dive instructors, they might end up being teachers. We need more Māori women in marine science," said Dr Paul-Burke

She and her husband are tutoring the course and have bought dive gear for the group. Their friends have also donated equipment.

"An Australian friend of mine makes long fins which cost around $600 and he gave us a pair. A couple of Aussies came over and we told them what we were planning. They just left their wetsuits behind. Others passed around a hat and got us some money for some other gear. People think it’s a good idea and they want to contribute," said Joe Burke.

The group practice for 2 hours, 2 days a week and will gain their free diving certificate just before Christmas.

"We'll celebrate by going for a dive to get kaimoana for their whānau," said Dr Paul-Burke.