Our staff

Our friendly community of Māori support staff are here to help you have a great OP experience. Find out about our team below.

For general enquiries please contact our administrator, Kylie.  


Kylie Hohaia
Taranaki, Ngāti Tama, Tainui


Kylie is one of Otago Polytechnic's success stories. 

While she was working as a cleaner, she witnessed two of her younger sisters receive Mana Pounamu Awards and succeed in their studies at Otago Polytechnic. Their achievements inspired Kylie to enrol at Otago Polytechnic when she was 30. 

Kylie graduated with a Certificate in Foundation Studies Level 2 before moving on to Business Administration and Computing at Levels 3 and 4. She is currently planning her next steps in her Otago Polytechnic education. 

Since graduating in 2016, Kylie has worked as an administrator at Te Punaka Ōwheo. She works 10 hours a week in that role, has another part-time position at the Otago Polytechnic Students' Association (OPSA), and also raises her two teenage children, Wyatt and Belle. 

Kylie loves meeting and getting to know students and enjoys the variety that her position has to offer. She is always  looking for funny, appropriate content for Te Punaka Ōwheo's Facebook page, and admits to "a bit of an addiction to taking selfies - with filters of course".  


Rebecca Swindells
Taranaki, Ngāti Tama, Tainui

Kaiawhina Tauira Māori

Born and raised in Dunedin, Rebecca won a Manu Pounamu Award which she used to complete a Bachelor of Applied Management at Otago Polytechnic. She is currently working towards her Master of Professional Practice with a focus on distance learning. 

She immersed herself in student life at Otago Polytechnic, serving as President of the Otago Polytechnic Students' Association (OPSA). It was in this role that Rebecca's passion for helping people blossomed.

In her Kaiawhina role, she is particularly well-known for her passion for student politics, student advocacy, expertise in budgeting and StudyLink knowledge. 

Rebecca credits her wonderful electrician husband for helping her to manage her work/life balance as they raise their three beautiful tamariki together. She is the middle child of five, and her whānau lives very much a papakainga lifestyle - her parents, siblings and nine nieces and nephews all live within a short walk of each other and see each other daily. 

If Rebecca is not at work, you are likely to find her with her large whānau, watching rugby or exploring the outdoors.   


Dr Helen Papuni
Ngāti Porou

Kaiawhi Wairua - Māori Chaplain 

Ko Hikurangi te maunaa
Ko Waiapu te awa
Ko Porourangi te tangata 
Ko Maraehara te turangawaewae
Ko Hinepare te marae. 

Kōkā/Whaea Helen is the Māori Chaplain for both Otago Polytechnic and the University of Otago, working closely with Māori students and staff to grow their spiritual well-being. Using Tā Mason Durie's Te Whare Tapawha model of Māori social health, Helen points to te taha wairua/spiritual health as one of the factors contributing to Māori student success alongside te taha tinana/physical health, te taha whanau/family health and te taha hinengaro/mental health. As part of the Otago ecumenical chaplaincy team, Helen works alongside people of all faiths and no-faith to help strengthen spiritual awareness from a uniquely Māori perspective. 

Email: Maori.Chaplain@op.ac.nz 

Mobile: 027 789 4516 


James Woods (Woody)

Ngāpuhi, Te Arawa, Ngāti Ranginui

Kaiawhina Tauira Māori


Woody, who grew up in Manurewa, South Auckland gained a diploma in computing in his “younger years”, after dropping out of high school. He then went on to work in the engineering industry for more than a decade, primarily in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) engineering.

After moving to Dunedin with his whanau in 2015, he studied a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. He went onto win a few awards including most professional and promising student during that time and graduated with merit.

Having a passion for music, Woody continues to excel in the DJ Scene. With over 17 years experience, he has played alongside many artists and bands. In 2017 Woody opened for chart-topping Kiwi band Six60 and International artist Tinnie Tempah.

Having a healthy mix of raising a family and continuing his musical endeavours, Woody continues to work as an I.T. lecturer and is excited to fulfil his Kaiawhina role at Otago Polytechnic.

 Tereinamu Hakopa profile photo  

Tereinamu Hakopa

Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa
Kaiawhina Tauira Maori

Tēnā koutou,

Ko Tereinamu Hakopa ahau. He uri tenei no nga iwi or Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whitikaupeka rātou ko Ngai Tahu. Ahakoa kei te noho au ki Otepoti, ko Tokaanu toku tūrangawaewae.

Kia Ora everyone, my name is Tereinamu I whakapapa to Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa. Though I live in Dunedin, my place of belonging is at the feet of my grandparents in Tokaanu.

Born in Dunedin (but not raised) while my father studied, I returned twice to the place that has facilitated the educational pathways of my whānau. Living here for the past 20 years I consider Dunedin to be a good home away from home.

Currently in my last year of my Bachelor of Social Services, specialising in Career Practice, I feel fortunate to work in the role as a Kaiawhina. Aside from providing support for our tauira Māori I thoroughly enjoy working in an environment that feeds my cultural wellbeing.

Outside of study, I co-teach an early morning scripture study class for some of the youth of my church. I also enjoying eating out, exercising, driving adventures, Korean dramas and spending time with my family and friends. Having made a goal to read a book 30mins, three times a week, I also enjoy listening to audiobooks.