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  • Taylor-Rose Terekia

Huinga tauira aims to make positive shift away from binge drinking stigma

Te Huinga Ki Tua, the 2021 Te Huinga Tauira o Ngā Ākonga Māori, addresses the conference's notorious binge drinking reputation by reducing the number of alcohol related events.

The four-day conference encompasses the annual general meeting of Te Mana Ākonga and is hosted by a different tertiary institution every year, with the highly anticipated event attracting more than 200 students each time.

The kaupapa which is typically filled with uplifting events such as kapa haka, sports and educational workshops is more popularly known for its drinking culture; stemming from the social events programmed each evening. This has built a stigma of Te Huinga Tauira over the years as being a three day bender.

This year the huinga will be hosted in Tāmaki Makaurau by Tītahi Ki Tua - AUT Māori Students Association (TKT). The Tumuaki Takirua, Satriani Epiha agrees that there is a stigma around Te Huinga Tauira.

Speaking to Te Pararē Epiha shares, “I believe there is an extreme amount of expectation for drinking and we are so worried about that element of huinga which takes away workshop and learning opportunities provided by these institutes.”

“What do you think your PvC’s think of Huinga? Do you struggle getting funding to get your roopu to huinga? Do you drink every night at those social events? Are you ready and focused for the next day or are you sleeping at the AGM hungover from the night before?”

When approaching the hosting responsibilities, TKT decided that this year's huinga will only feature one event where alcohol can be consumed. This is a positive shift away from the usual three alcohol related events in the past.

In relation to this topic, Te Pararē put out a social media poll last year which asked tauira whether the number of alcoholic events at Te Huinga Tauira should be reduced. The results showed that 34 tauira agreed that the number should be cut down, compared to the 18 tauira who wanted to keep them.

Some tauira took to the comments to express their thoughts. A past executive member of Ngāi Tauira shared “I loved the paeroa during the day and equally enjoyed the social occasions at night. Host responsibility and ensuring the tauira are at the hui the next day is the main thing.”

Another tauira expressed that the social nights supported whanaungatanga, but removing one social night could help address the stigma. They write, ”It only has that stigma because of certain perspectives of Maori Students all getting together drinking as being a huge drink up. They don't see the kaupapa happening during the day, but maybe take one night out for sober whanaungatanga.”

As this year’s hosts, TKT are setting a new precedent for the conference's future. “This is an opportunity for us as a collective to restructure a new vision for growth and funding towards Huinga.” shares Epiha.

Due to COVID-19 the 2020 Te Huinga Tauira was cancelled. Te Huinga Ki Tua 2021 officially begins with a pōwhiri on September 2.


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