A Far North tertiary graduation ceremony was so large it was spread out over three days at three different locations.

Te Wananga o Aotearoa's presentation of diplomas and certificates for the 2015 academic year in Te Tai Tokerau were conducted in Whangarei, Kaitaia and Kerikeri this week.

In Kerikeri, 402 students from the Kaikohe campus graduated in a variety of level one and level two subjects. The oldest student is well into her 70s while the youngest is just 16.

The wananga's marketing co-ordinator Jasmine Mason said many of the students had headed back to school for the first time in years.


"Some of our kuia and kaumatua are showing their mokopuna that you're never too old to learn," Ms Mason said. "They are reconnecting with their Maori language and their way of life."

Hemuera Neho, 17, moved from Auckland to attend the wananga in Kaikohe. He has graduated with a diploma in sport and fitness and will stay on for the next 36 weeks to complete a diploma in tourism. He admits he struggled at secondary school in Auckland. He is also the father of a six-month-old baby.

"I got into a bit of trouble at school so I decided to come north, back to my mother's area," Mr Neho said.

"I wanted to graduate for my daughter and now I wouldn't go back to Auckland."

The Tai Tokerau Wananga offers a range of professional and trade subjects and specialises in Maori language (Te Reo), Maori and Indigenous Development (Angitu) and Arts (Toi). The college's Tai Tokerau reach extends from Mangere in Auckland to Cape Reinga. At the graduation ceremony in Kerikeri, wananga director Matiu Payne announced that from this year the Mangere campus will be offering a first for New Zealand, a post-graduate degree in Indigenous Studies.