Tena koutou katoa,
He uri tenei nō Ngati Tara, Ngati Naho, Ngati Hineuru hoki
Nō Taranaki ahau,
Ko Renee Waiwiri tōku ingoa
Renee is from Taranaki, she went to New Plymouth Girls’ High School and embraced her Māoritanga in Kapa Haka, Waka Ama and Leadership. Her interests in school were design related whether that be woodwork, printmaking, or graphic design.
She moved to Wellington for further study which was a big step that allowed her to build confidence in herself and her work. Renee chose to study the Bachelor of Design Innovation (BDI) specialising in Industrial Design at Victoria University of Wellington because she wanted to be a part of an industry that helped change the way people interact with products.
Renee then heard about our Master of User Experience Design (MUXD) programme through a friend who had studied it the year before. When she enrolled, a staff member mentioned our Māori and Pasifika Scholarship and encouraged her to apply. Renee was surprised and excited to realise there were opportunities for Māori at a postgraduate level. She was thankful to receive this scholarship, it helped her to truly embrace her culture and identity in her design and think more inclusively about what is and isn’t working for Māori.
Renee’s cultural values have been a strong foundation for her work, being able to incorporate Tikanga and Mātauranga into her projects has been important to her. MUXD actually includes a Mātauranga Design course and Renee said “the course that we have been doing is really good and the people in our class are really expressing my culture and understanding our perspective in the way we view our past, present and future, it also has taught me that I am one of the people that has to pass that knowledge on to the next generation and I need to prepare for that.”
Our Mentorship Programme was a highlight for Renee, she really liked her industry mentor who is a Design Lead for ANZ, and the “lecturers are also really great, being from the industry it makes it more reassuring that the stuff we’re learning from them is going to be relevant for when we actually go out into the industry.”
“What is great about this programme is the endless opportunities you get to gain industry experience and mentorship with people currently in the industry. We got to collaborate with some great companies but also with student developers to get a real taste for life as a User Experience Designer.”
Our Master of User Experience Design programme taught Renee a lot, she is especially grateful for the way UX design methodology has made her design differently and attentively to serve a purpose. Her next steps are to reimagine how those UX methods can serve indigenous people and their ways of thinking.
We asked Renee what advice she would give to someone wanting to follow in her footsteps and she said, “Try to think differently – I don’t mean everyone goes right so you go left, I mean challenge the brief and always ask why, why this, why now, find a connection to the brief and be aware of what surrounds you to be able to understand the state of the problem. What you will learn is creative problem solving and viewing things in a different perspective. At the end of the day you are all going to go into the industry at the same time with the same skills so having that point of difference is good to have.”
“UX moves so fast and there’s always something new happening every day. And even in NZ I probably wouldn’t have even heard of it [UX] until last year and now it’s booming!”
UX design is Renee’s passion, but people are her reasons why. She wants to build her knowledge in Te Ao Māori and encourage more Māori to lead a life bigger than themselves. “We need to help each other to understand the past so that we can start to design the future”
Renee is now working at the Indigenous Design and Innovation Āotearoa (IDIA) as a User Experience Designer as well as tutoring at Victoria University of Wellington in the Mātauranga Design course.
You can enrol now for our Master of User Experience Design for July 2021 and have an inspiring career path like Renee.