Packing her bags to move from Whakatane to Oxford University to start her new job, Evie O’Brien found herself grappling with a bout of imposter syndrome.
“Māori don’t belong here - that’s what I thought,” she says. “This place is elite, it’s for the world’s elite. It is for people who have money.”
Evie, now the Executive Director of the Atlantic Institute: Rhode’s Trust, says it took “a bit of courage” to uproot the life that she loved, to move across the world by herself. Attempting to alleviate any homesickness, she packed artwork - pictures of her sacred mountains in Whakatane, and taonga, to hang on the walls of her new home.
But despite any feelings of unease, the reality was that Evie had been cherry-picked for the role. Her involvement with the Rhodes Institute began back when she was working at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, the Whakatane-based indigenous tertiary education provider, back in 2018 and was selected for the inaugural Atlantic Fellows Social Equity programme, based at the University of Melbourne.