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Ngāi Tahu recommends new member to the Ara council

Ngāi Tahu recommends new member to the Ara council

Newly appointed Ara Council Member Melanie Taite-Pitama will be keeping a keen eye on the achievement of Māori students at the institute, as Ara strives for parity of course completion rates for Māori and Pasifika.

As the Ngāi Tahu recommended representative for the council, Melanie began her appointment with Ara at the council meeting of 28 March, replacing Lynne Harata Te Aika who served on the council for six years. Lynne was formally thanked at her final council meeting on 28 February by the Chair Jenn Bestwick.

Melanie brings some 20 years of experience in education to her role at Ara. She is currently a Director of Learning at Haeata Community Campus, with experience at the Ministry of Education, the University of Canterbury, the Ngāi Tūāhuriri Education team and as co-director of Tuahiwi Education Limited.

“I love the tertiary sector and enjoyed my time with UC,” she says. “Over the past year my substantive role has seen me needing to work closely with Ara and has sparked a further interest in what Ara was doing for our community and in particular how Ara was tracking for Māori students.”

“Achieving equity and excellence of education outcomes for all New Zealand’s people is the major challenge for our education system and achieving this for Māori students is even further away. One of our jobs at Ara is to understand how effectively we as educators respond to Māori and other learners whose learning and achievement need more support. I will be looking for effective ways to support Ara to improve our practices to achieve equity and excellence.”

Lifting Maori achievement has been a longstanding goal of the institute. While the council sets the strategic direction for the institute, the goals are operationalised throughout the institute. Ara has set an ambitious completion rate of 90+% course completion rate across the institute for 2018 in the Strategic Plan 2017 – 2019. In 2016, Maori achieved 75.6% and Pasifika 74.7% (overall was 83.5%) and Ara is working hard to lift these statistics.

Initiatives that been established to support different groups of learners, including Māori and Pasifika, include more comprehensive and accessible student support systems being resourced and embedded. Ara strives to make Māori students and their families welcome. There are regular events to bring whānau into the institute, familiarise them with the environment and help to celebrate students’ success.

Working alongside the Ara council and executive team to represent Ngāi Tahu, Melanie brings strong leadership and strategic skills to the institute. She describes her particular areas of interest as: “Supporting the strategic direction of Ara; interpreting, analysing and reflecting on data; teaching and learning - how this is being rolled out and implemented and what measures of success are in place; leadership - particularly Māori women in leadership; thinking beyond status quo; and enhancement of learners and what they bring.”

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