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Te Akatea Maori School Principals conference 2002

29 May 2002
Hon Parekura Horomia
Speech Notes


E tipu e rea mo nga ra o tou ao,
Ko tou ringa ki te rakau a te Pakeha, hei ara mo tou tinana
Ko tou ngakau ki nga taonga a o tipuna Maori, hei tikitiki mo tou mahunga
Ko tou wairua ki te Atua, nana nei mga mea katoa

Whata Winiata used Apirana Ngata’s proverb 'E tipu e rea' to the late John Bennetts daughter, as a tool to assess the Ngati Raukawa 'Whakatipuranga Rua Mano' developmental programme.

In the first instance, would we be prepared to use this assessment tool on ourselves?

The second line of the proverb is, and I quote “Ko tou ringa ki te rakau a te Pakeha hei ara mo to tinana.”

How well have we mastered the arts of the Pakeha for our own professional development and advancement? That is my first question.

The next line of the proverb is “Ko tou ngakau ki nga taonga a o tipuna Maori, hei tikitiki mo tou mahunga.”

How well and how competent are we in the ways, the language, and the philosophies of our old people? How integrated are we and do we play an active role in our whanau, hapu and iwi marae communities.

The third line is “Ko tou wairua ki te Atua nana nei nga mea katoa.”

This third line is, of course, the reference to the spiritual world, and might I add, the spiritual world and its gods.

Just think about that for a moment.

The next challenge I put to you, of course, if you were to use the same criteria to assess your students and you find that they all achieve a hundred per cent when you assess them. That would surely tell you, that you have also received a pass mark!

Your students will be a reflection of what you believe to be good for yourself. I am not an educationalist, so this theory of mine might be all skew whiff. I can tell you though, that I have been a student, and I have fathered some students and I know that successful students are often inspired by 'someone'.

What greater people to inspire a student, than those in whose company they would spent the greater hours of daylight and that is you, those of the teaching profession.

I saw a story the other day, of this young Ngati Porou woman called Ocean Mercier who I understand is the first Maori woman with a Phd in Physics. And you know what, she talked about being inspired in her search for knowledge and truth, by one of her teachers.

I am not saying that the sole responsibility for academic success rests with you, but I am saying, that you play a big part.

Thank you for inviting me to your annual conference. It is good to be invited here today, to be amongst a group of people who, on a daily basis are demonstrating a commitment to the educational achievement of our tamariki and rangatahi.

I know that there are principals here of Primary, Intermediate, High Schools Kura Kaupapa Maori and rural schools. You represent our ability to achieve in all of those settings.

It is encouraging to see that despite your responsibilities to your schools and of course your whanau, you have made it a priority to be here at this conference. I commend you for that. I know this is a rare opportunity for you to share your stories with each other, learning from the collective knowledge and experience here at the conference.

The strength of the relationships we build, allow us to set our sights higher and achieve more. Strong and productive relationships demand continued effort and energy and mutual respect and reciprocity must be maintained.

It is therefore good to know that the relationship between Te Akatea and the Ministry continues to flourish. This is an important relationship that allow open communication so that there may be shared understandings whether they are specific Te Akatea issues or wider policy matters, it is important that they are brought to the table.

I too, am keen to maintain my relationship with you. Over the last year I have met formally with the members of the Executive twice. I have of course, kept bumping into you during my travels around the motu.

Leadership and development initiative
The step up to being a principal is an enormous professional challenge. As a people, I believe that we have never shied from taking on great challenges and by your presence at this conference, you demonstrate that we continue to step up to a challenge.

We are all well aware of the impact that a principals leadership can have on a school and on the school's community.

Our great leaders have always led from the front. Perhaps, however, their greatest skill was their ability to take the people with them, through maintaining their confidence with the decisions they made.

Our leaders must have listened well to the people, as they could not dictate without the people's willingness to accept the decisions made on their behalf by their leaders.

Nobody said your job is easy but we just have to get on and do it for the benefit of our kids and our people.

We need to talk more with each other about our ideas in education, which we believe can benefit whanau. Education we know – you know was in the past used as a tool to assimilate us.

Another question is – 'Is the same thing happening today without us knowing it? Lets think about it.

Induction Programme
The induction programme started for the first cohort of first-time principals in the Easter break, at Kings College in Auckland. I know that Trevor Mallard popped in and was really taken with what he saw. Peter Witana and John Naera were facilitators at the first residential course and they can give you a first hand account of how things went.

It may well be that we should have our own induction programmes because I believe we have some issues unique to us as whanau whanui.

Hui Taumata Matauranga
We kept our promise when we came into government to hold a Hui Taumata Matauranga. The momentum created by the first Hui Taumata Matauranga at Taupo in February 2001, where there were 107 recommendations made to improve education for Maori, continues to grow today.

I must acknowledge the importance of the role that Tuwharetoa Ariki Tumu te Heuheu has played in taking the lead in co-ordinating a Maori partner for the Hui Taumata Mätauranga process.

We are working smart to ensure that government goals are aligned with recommendations and aspirations expressed at the Hui Taumata Mätauranga.

What we are looking for, for our tamariki and rangatahi is quality schools, quality education and tools that support our principals and teachers development and also enable our students to take up the many opportunities that exist in today's world.

The level of participation and the discussion at the regional hui signifies the huge importance that whanau whanui and Maori communities place on ensuring their children receive quality education.

Literacy and numeracy
We've got to focus on the practice – you must set higher expectations for our young. Your own practice must reflect those expectations.

Feed the Mind
The Feed the Mind Campaign launched in 1999 is an initiative straddling literacy and numeracy. It encourages whanau to do daily things with their children like reading and counting games, it encourages learning within the whanau environment.

You know, when I went to school, and even when I was in the public service, I was always told that us Maori people 'were all heart'. You know what the problem with that was, that they denied us a brain.

And you know what was worse? We started to believe we didn’t have a brain! We couldn’t think, but that didn’t matter, 'because we could manaaki people'.

So I reckon that we have been conned! Because you know what, not only can we can manaaki people but we are incredibly clever!

Planning and reporting
Schools will now have to set the targets as part of strategic and annual planning processes. The Ministry has been out there working with you on this. We want schools to be on the front foot in identifying students that need support and areas of curriculum delivery that need beefing up. We see our role as helping schools identify and deal with areas needing improvement.

We’re interested to know how the school sector is dealing with the issues we see at the national level, but we know that each school will approach each of these issues in their own way.

Information and Communication Technology
ICT has made and continues to make an enormous impact. This country’s learning environment has been turned on its head by new advances in technology.

The Government is determined to seize the benefits on offer for teaching and learning, specifically where new technology can serve to enrich the learning environment for students.

New Zealand is emerging as a world leader in using video conferencing for face-to-face teaching and learning. Last year a pioneering pilot project connecting Wharekura and Maori boarding schools at different ends of the country won two top telecommunications awards. Maori are at the forefront of much of this experimentation.

And so we should be at the forefront. Because there was a fellow called Maui – the Maori superman and he did amazing things,
 he fished up islands,
 he slowed down the sun, and
 he created the computer!

You just think about it! How did he work out all those moves, why is it that so many young Maori play PS2 (Play Station 2) so well. I will tell you why, because as descendants of Maui, they have an innate connection with their ancestor - who created the computer.

As descendants of Maui they carry a computer around in their head, it is called a brain. All they are doing is when you see them in the spacies parlour - is having a training run. It is a training run that involves hand, eye, brain co-ordination.

The other thing I want to say, if we are really serious about our kids ability, we would teach them how to write the programmes which create the games.

Together we you, me and our whanau will make progress.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, for your work and for the commitment you have to educating our younger generations no matter what ancestry they are borne of.

As I said at the beginning of my address, I hope you will take this opportunity to continue sharing your experiences and learning from each other and not only at this conference but when you are all back home amongst your own communities.

If there is one message that I could leave you with today, with my Minister of Maori Affairs hat firmly on my head, it is this: "Our kids are clever. As parents, whanau, principals and teachers we must believe in our children, that they can do anything and they must grow up knowing that they can achieve and do anything".

Intellectual ability can be found within in our tangata whenua culture.

As Maori principals you have the responsibility to ensure that your staff and your schools promote that message to our children, whether it be maths, chemistry, accountancy, history, physics or the arts– there is nothing that they cannot do.

I have in the past presented certificates in the freezing works to people who for the first time had been made to feel successful for the very first time. Why is that? It is no longer tolerable.

I have met kuia as old as my aunties studying at wananga, soaking up the knowledge and just loving it. Our people are hungry for knowledge and truth. We have the opportunity to play a part in this.

And with those thoughts, I wish you all the best for a successful and challenging conference.

Tena koutou katoa.

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