Mr West, who is of Finnish and English descent on his father’s side and of Tuhourangi and Ngati Whakaue descent on his mother’s, has been admitted to the bar, officially becoming a lawyer at a ceremony at the Rotorua High Court recently, accompanied by his family.
His Te Puia links are something he is particularly proud of.
“It’s fair to say that guiding is in the blood,” Mr West said.
“My hope is to develop myself to be in a position to give back to Te Puia, my whanau, hapu and iwi. I truly stand on the shoulders of giants.”
Mr West’s family have been guiding at Whakarewarewa since his great, great grandmother Mereraukura Wiari was first registered in 1919.
He also worked as a guide at Te Puia for more than four years during breaks from university study.
He said guiding was a welcome reprieve from university. “Guiding was a great relief from study and a great way to learn how to talk and present yourself to the public.”
Mr West is currently working in the reservations area at the cultural centre.
He said achieving his goal to become a lawyer was “fantastic”.
“It is the result of five years’ hard study. Secondly, and more importantly, I was admitted to the profession of barrister and solicitor of the High Court exactly 100 years since my great, great grandfather took his case to the Court of Appeal to establish Maori customary ownership over Lake Rotorua.”
A graduate of Waikato University, Mr West plans to do some post-graduate study in human resources and marketing. “Knowledge is power and education is the key.”