Charles Brown (Matua Charlie)

Charles Brown

Bachelor of Māori and Indigenous Studies – Ihu Puta 2017

In his younger years, Matua Charlie struggled with the education system. Seeking a fresh start, he moved to Australia. Eventually however, a lack of fulfilment through not knowing his language and culture brought him back to New Zealand to reconnect.

At Te Puna Wanaka, Charlie found passion and fulfilment in his language and culture. “All I have to say is ‘nau mai, haere mai’ – if you come here and work hard you’ll achieve your goals. That’s what this place is about.”

Charlie, who has dyslexia, always had challenges as a learner. “I’ve learnt not to be whakamā of my disabilities, not to hide it. I’ve learnt to own it, and I’ve only learnt that from this place. The tutors had a great understanding of my needs.”

His final-year research project focused on te ako piwaiwaka (learning with dyslexia), and the challenges it presents. The project prompted him to reflect on his own personal journey of overcoming challenges while learning his language and reconnecting with his culture.

Now Charlie aspires to work in academic support, helping people with challenges similar to those he faced. “I want to give back to the community; āwhina people who have a learning disability and help them achieve their goals.”

He also hopes his children, and other people with dyslexia, will be inspired by his achievement. “I hope it shows them that if they have goals, they can reach them.”