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The Open Polytechnic awards students

The Open Polytechnic awards students

The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand honoured six of its students from around the country this week by acknowledging their outstanding study achievements with Adult Learners’ Week/He Tangata Mātauranga Awards.

Hailing from as far a field as Auckland in the North, and West Otago in the South, five of the six winners of the Adult Learner Awards were able to attend a ceremony at the distance education provider’s Lower Hutt campus where they were presented with certificates and each received $250 worth of book vouchers as part of their prize.

Nominated by their lecturers, the winning students were selected on the basis of meeting several criteria - including a passion for learning, the determination to succeed at their studies, and among other things, the ability to use what they learn to improve their professional or personal life.

Ramese Malaetasi, a Wainuiomata student studying towards the Diploma in Maori Art & Design in Whakairo (carving) by day, and working in a factory by night to support his family, says he feels proud to receive the award, and it has inspired him to study further and continue to develop his art.

Samoan born, the 37-year-old says he hopes his artwork will continue to cross cultural boundaries. “One of the focuses of my art is to encourage the young ones, especially Pacific Island youth, to learn for the community, and to be wise enough to know who they are.”

West Otago student Denise Sanne fits her Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood Education) studies around her part-time work, family, and in between helping out on the family farm. She says winning the award was a big surprise. “It’s really humbling. It is not only a pat on the back for the effort I have put into my studies, it is also encouragement for the path I have decided to take and lets me know that the doors are open wide for me to keep going in that direction.”

Studying towards her Diploma in Psychology, mature Waihi student Joan Reid shared the good news of her win with her sons and granddaughter. “The are really thrilled for me, and I am really proud of myself,” says the over 60-year-old who has already completed the Certificate in Tertiary Study Skills, and says her studies have helped get her a new job.

Further north, Waiheke Island student Kathi Johnson overcame difficult personal circumstances on her way to achieving three diplomas in Psychology, and is now in the final semester of her Bachelor of Applied Science degree majoring in Psychology. All three of her children had health issues during her studies, meaning she had to fit her studies around their hospital visits, with her daughter having to be home-schooled for a year. Despite this she still managed to achieve high grades.

“I was really excited when my lecturer rang to say I’d won the award,” says the 43-year-old. “I couldn’t wait to tell my family. There were lots of hugs and squeals and congratulations.” As soon as she finishes her studies Kathi intends to re-launch her career in the counselling and life coach field, specialising in parenting and relationship issues. Her win has come at the right time she says. “It’s a really great way to finish the degree.”

Christchurch student Donna Dove (Te Arawa, Tūhourangi) works as a mental health support worker and is studying towards the National Certificate in Mental Health -Mental Health Support Work. The 46-year-old says she is honoured to be a recipient of the award. “It’s a fantastic acknowledgement of the amount of effort and time I have put in towards my studies.” Recovering from pneumonia last year meant Donna has had to work hard to get her studies back on track.

Georgina Barros recently completed the NZQA-Accredited National Certificate in Employment Skills and The Open Polytechnic’s Certificate of Vocational and Personal Development through the LifeWorks programme, which is a subsidiary of The Open Polytechnic. The Whangaparaoa 34-year-old mother of two immigrated to New Zealand from South Africa six years ago without formal qualifications, and says completing the LifeWorks programme has changed her life, making her feel more confident.

“I felt really overwhelmed to win the award, it took me quite a while to process the fact that I had won. Winning this award is a great stepping stone for me to go out into the world and make my dreams a reality, says Georgina, who was nominated for the award by her LifeWorks coach.

Adult Learners’ Week/He Tangata Mātauranga is an international initiative created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The week lasts from 4-10 September and is celebrated at educational institutions and local community providers around New Zealand. This year’s theme is ‘Changing Lives, Building Strong Communities Akoranga Pakari Whakawhiti Oranga me te Hanga hapori Pakari’ and emphasises how educating adult learners in the community benefits not only the individual, but the whole community.

The Open Polytechnic is New Zealand’s specialist provider of open and distance learning offering a wide range of courses and programmes on a national basis. A major educator of people in the work force, nearly two thirds of the Polytechnic’s 30,000 students last year were studying while in employment.


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