Feilding-raised and internationally-renowned educational leader, Dr Areti Metuamate, has been appointed as the inaugural chief executive of Te Kupenga – Catholic Leadership Institute. Te Kupenga was formed on 1 January 2020 by merging Good Shepherd College with The Catholic Institute.
Areti is of Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Hauā and Cook Islands descent. He grew up in Feilding and attended Hāto Pāora College. He graduated from Victoria University of Wellington and the Australian National University, where his PhD was in Pacific leadership. He has held advisory and leadership roles in the public and tertiary education sectors, most recently as dean of St Mark’s College in Adelaide, South Australia.
Areti returns to Wellington from Adelaide this month with his wife Dr Jessa Rogers-Metuamate, who is a distinguished indigenous academic, educator and artist from Australia’s Wiradjuri peoples.
Areti says he is honoured and humbled to have been appointed to Te Kupenga and is excited to be coming back home after a decade in Australia. ‘The opportunity to play a leadership role in shaping Te Kupenga and ensuring it connects and appeals to more of our people is also a key motivation for me.
‘I am keen to see Te Kupenga grow as a national tertiary organisation and connect to more people from all walks of life across all parts of the country and beyond. I think courses can be run on marae, in community centres, and in both cities and regional and rural towns. We have some excellent staff who are very sharp and wise thinkers – more people should engage with them and learn from and with them.’
Areti and his wife are expecting a son to be born in March and being based amongst whānau is important for them he says. ‘My whānau have been Catholics for many generations. Our marae (Kauwhata Marae) just out of Feilding has a Catholic church there, St Peter and St Paul built in 1895, and generations of us have been baptised there.
‘It feels like the right time to return home to bring the learning and experience I have gained after 10 years working with young people in Australian universities and organisations and am keen to bring to the new role a focus on connecting to the young people in the Church – and, indeed, outside the Church.’
Areti is passionate about education and its power to transform individual lives and communities. ‘I am fortunate to have had great teachers and educational leaders who helped shape my life to what it is now. I have always wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of others in the same way they did for me.
Areti says he is a strong advocate for Church leadership to be more reflective of the people within it. ‘The Church as an institution must do all it can to reach out to those who are marginalised and struggling in our society – I believe every single person who calls themselves a Catholic has an obligation to reach out and touch those people and to try to make them feel loved and wanted. That is what we are called to do. The Church also needs to do more to empower women.’
New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference president Bishop Patrick Dunn says he is delighted with the appointment.
‘Dr Metuamate is a personable and capable man, with the vision, energy and relationship skills needed to get the new organisation up and running.
‘Areti’s appointment will help drive visibility and growth for Te Kupenga among Māori, Pasifika, younger people and other important communities within our increasingly diverse Church and society,’ Bishop Dunn added. ‘He will bring a contemporary style and quality of leadership to a new organisation that seeks to engage the Catholic and wider communities in ways that are authentic and resonant for our time.’
Te Kupenga – The Catholic Leadership Institute has three operating units:
Catholic Theological College (for tertiary courses and qualifications);