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Kupe scholar’s principal goal a step closer

Stacey Davis was one of two University of Canterbury (UC) Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Primary) students to receive Kupe Māori and Pacific High Achievers scholarships from the Honourable Kelvin Davis, Associate Minister of Education (Māori Education), at an award celebration at Parliament Buildings last night (Thursday 19 September).

The Nelson-based UC student, mother and rugby coach is putting in the hard work towards her long-term goal of becoming a school principal, sustained by her family and her passion for Te Āo Māori.

The 30 TeachNZ Kupe Scholars – chosen for their integrity, intellect, enthusiasm and excellent leadership potential – receive national recognition, course fees, a $15,000 study allowance and mentoring.

Tell us about your background and how you came to be studying through UC?

I am a working mum of three children, Coby (10), Nathan (7) and Te Maire (1). I work as Teacher Aide three days a week at Broadgreen Intermediate. I have a very supportive whānau who help me to do all that I do, especially my mum and my husband and my mother-in-law.

I also coach and manage two rugby teams (both my sons’ teams). I am still heavily involved in community rugby and giving back through promoting and supporting girls and women in rugby as well as junior rugby. I am a Board of Trustee member and the Māori Liaison for Richmond Primary where I have also secured a teaching job next year.

My iwi connections are through Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu but I have more knowledge of my whakapapa from my mother’s side which ties to Ngāi Tahu and the rohe of Aparima. I also have strong ties to Ngāti Koata and the Whakatū Marae through my husband’s whānau.

I have always wanted to be a teacher; my late stepfather, Peter Ross, was a principal and worked for the Ministry of Education. He inspired and motivated me to become a teacher and, after working as a teacher aide for a long time, I was ready to make the transition into a classroom teacher.

Wat do you hope to do with your qualification?

I chose to be a teacher to make a difference for all tamariki. I am passionate about creating change and developing teaching and learning to be inclusive for all tamariki. I hope to continue my study once I have completed my registration. I want to further my knowledge in Te Āo Māori [The Māori world] and do extensive study and professional development in this area. My main goal is to become a principal of a school and complete any qualification to help me achieve this goal.

What’s it like studying through UC?

UC are so supportive, especially last year; I had a baby in the middle of the year, and they were all so supportive in getting my assignments done on time and all my mahi complete. The cohort in Nelson is like my second whānau. My two amazing study buddies and the lecturers are amazing. We are so lucky to be supported by such wonderful people, on campus and through distance.

Why do you think you were chosen for the Kupe scholarship – what achievements, attitudes or skills made you stand out?

Applying for the Kupe Scholarship was not easy. You really had to sell yourself and talk yourself up (which is hard for me). I feel I got the scholarship because I have good goals for my future, and I feel I can represent my Māori whakapapa with pride and passion. Te reo me ōna tikanga Māori [the Māori language and protocols] drives my values and beliefs and I feel they will support me to achieve my goals and dreams. I want to promote Te Āo Māori through all aspects of teaching and learning and help others to be more confident. My transcripts and grades are something they take into consideration with having to maintain a B+ average or above and I have been able to do this.

I have goals, hopes, dreams and aspirations and know what I need to do get there. I think being determined and passionate helped me to be successful.

What does this scholarship mean for you?

The scholarship reflects all the hard work, sweat and tears that have gone into the last two-and-a-half years. I have had to make huge sacrifices and so have my whānau, so the reward is not only for myself but for them, too. They have all been on this journey with me and seen all the highs and lows. I am very blessed to have them. My children also get to see what hard work does and where it will get you. It has taught them that they can do whatever they put their mind to and to not give up.

The financial support is a huge gain for me, too. Having your course fees covered and an allowance makes life a little less stressful. The scholarship is a dedication to my whānau and will help me achieve my future goals. It supports you after you have finished your degree and gives you professional development opportunities and mentors to support you on your journey. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of this process and look forward to what the future holds.

What would you say to prospective Māori and Pasifika teachers?

I encourage Māori and Pasifika people to take on the challenge of becoming a teacher. Being a teacher is not an easy job, but for Māori and Pasifika alike we need to take on the challenge and be the best role models for our tamariki. Step out of your comfort zone and make a difference. Be proud of who you are and where you come from. Through my studies I have made strong connections to my tūrangawaewae and my whakapapa and what they mean for me and my whānau. I have used my passion for Te Āo Māori to motivate me and inspire me to be proud and stand tall.

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