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Maioha Riwai-Couch

New Zealand Diploma in Performing Arts (Māori and Pacific Dance) Level 6

NZ Diploma in Performing Arts student, Maioha Riawai-Couch.

A vibrant and charismatic ākonga that thrives in performing and entertaining, Maioha is a first-year student studying the NZ Diploma of Performing Arts at UCOL Te Pūkenga Wairarapa.

Maioha has been a leader and role model in the class, often aiding tutors with dance techniques and is the 2022 recipient of our Fenton Te Rauparaha (Ralph) Flavell Scholarship.

A Wairarapa local with several iwi affiliations; Ngāti Kahungunu, Rangitāne o Wairarapa, Ngapuhi, and Ngāti Ranginui. Maioha attended Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Wairarapa, from 5-17, and was raised in the world of entertainment and performance. Her mum, Kiri Riwai-Couch, completed the same diploma and then travelled the world as a performing artist. Her dad was right there too, playing the guitar.

There is no doubt performing is in her blood as she starts to share how she would busk every school holidays with her cousins, who lived in Paraparaumu. “They’d come up here, and we’d do really well. Then I’d go back to Wellington with them, and we’d do really well down there. We’d earn enough money to all go to the pools, the movies, that kind of thing.”

Maioha giggles as she reflects on how much influence her upbringing has had on her plans for the future. “Yeah, I didn’t think this was the path I would take. I thought I was going to be a dentist when I was 15. I’m so glad I ended up here. I love it.”

“UCOL is such a supportive environment to study in. The staff come to most of our performances, and we also perform for official celebrations and pōwhiri here on campus too which has been a massive confidence boost, feeling like we’re really part of the whānau. I’ve also been really impressed with how well our campus loves to celebrate different cultures, for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori we had events and activities every day!”

Talking on what comes next, she lights up – “I’d love to use my skills to travel the world!

“Another student in my class has a connection in Florida who is on the lookout for performers. I’d love to jump on that opportunity and perform over there for a while. After that, who knows?”

“Brigham Young University in Hawaii would be amazing to attend, as that would certainly help job opportunities at the Polynesian Culture Centre over there. It’s basically a tourist destination that showcases a range of performing arts over different cultural centres – Hawaiian, Māori, Polynesian, Micronesian etc.”

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