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Speech to 8th National Maori Teachers Conference

1 July 2002 Hon Parekura Horomia
Speech Notes

Speech to 8th National Maori Teachers Conference 2002 "Piki te ora, piki te maramatanga", Rotorua

Mihi - “Piki te ora, piki te kaha, piki te maramatanga”.

Last night I spent time with and spoke to the students and staff of the Winter School of the Pihopatanga. For me it was exciting to see so many of our mothers, fathers, koro and nannies getting involved in formal education.

I know there is are a growing number of our older people making the decision to enter into formal education.

What surprises me most about their decision to make the step into formal education, whether it is through wananga, university or other training is they don't always make the connection between life and education.

It is interesting to me, because many will have been the mainstays in their whanau for decades. They will have often played important roles within their whanau and communities and have been available when called on by those who need support and care at different times.

I know that their knowledge has been gained through experience and the wisdom created by constantly reflecting on what was desired and what was achieved. This is a standard task for those in leadership roles within whanau, or wider groups.

Education is about life long learning. It is about making the most of all of the opportunities you have to learn, whether they are in formal education or sitting talking as a whanau, a group of work colleagues or friends.

If we are open to the ideas that others are willing to share with us, we will better understand the lessons that they are offering us.

Whanau is the centre of learning within hapu, iwi and Maori communities. The education system must support whanau pursue education at every age.

To achieve this level of support, the education system must work in a way that affirms the identity of the whanau and knows the responsibilities and obligations that exist within the societal structure for whanau in hapu, iwi and Maori communities.

It requires staff, principals and school boards of trustees to understand what this means, it also requires that they ensure systems and processes in their schools encourage and support whanau and their whanau members participation.

The type of education system we are working together to create through processes like Hui Taumata Matauranga and the Tertiary Education Strategy is a system where Maori can excel in New Zealand. I also believe that Maori students with a strong sense of identity can achieve in an international environment alongside their peers from all around the world.

Oceania Mercier, a young Ngati Porou woman, has recently become the first Maori woman to graduate with a Phd in Physics and therefore can look further than New Zealand if she chooses. She spoke of an inspiring 6th form Physics teacher, and she is carrying that tradition forward in New Zealand by mentoring young science students at Victoria University.

By improving the education levels of whanau and within communities, we will be able to contribute to strengthening whanau. The goal is healthy strong whanau that are better equip and can engage and respond to what happens to themselves, within their communities and are capable of fully participating in society.

The higher we set our expectations for our education system and those who participate in it, the more challenging and therefore the more rewarding it will be.

Let us never set goals that will come too easily for the students, teachers, schools or systems. Let us always aim higher than we think we can achieve.

We need to support whanau get on to the education pathway and work with them to raise their expectations about the education system, by first ensuring that our own expectations are high and we are delivering.

In Christchurch recently I met and spoke with Te Akatea, the Maori Principals Association, about the need for us, as Maori adults to believe that our children are clever and that they can achieve. I also spoke to the about the need to show leadership and the benefits of strong leadership within a school environment.

I know that it is you, who stand in front of each of your classes every day ready to use every method you know to expose their potential, offering them the widest range of opportunities you can so they will try new things and achieve and in doing so realise their full potential.

What we, as a government have been doing over the last two years, is to support that practice by increasing the range of support and professional development mechanisms for teachers. We want to strengthen the current teacher base and develop it further.

We have a number of initiatives to support Maori teachers in both Maori-medium and mainstream. These involve a combination of tools to assist teachers to organise themselves better like Te Hiringa I te Mahara, professional development like Whakapiki i te reo and resource databases like Te Kete Ipurangi and Hiringa I te Mahara. All of these programmes are in place in response to concerns about teacher workload, the desire for training and the issue of resources.

Te Hiringa I te Mahara has focussed on helping Maori secondary teachers respond to workload pressures. This involves tools to assist teachers to plan and organise workload as well as a database of resources. The project has involved over 850 Maori secondary teachers. This programme gives teachers the time management, organisational and resource tools to achieve this for themselves.

I understand there is to be a report released on Wednesday that reviews the professional development work conducted last year.

'Te Hiringa i te Mahara' is just one project that is working for Maori secondary school teachers. This demonstrates the benefits of investing in Maori secondary teachers development therefore improving the opportunities available to our tamariki. I encourage to you read this report that will be available at your schools at the start of the new term.

This government is about building a quality education system for all Maori students and quality support and professional development for all Maori teachers. It takes the commitment of the whole school community, of the students, teachers and principal's willingness to contribute to this to succeed.

This government also acknowledges the environment in which schools exist. A necessary link and we must work together to strengthen the link between whanau and schools and communities.

Hui Taumata Matauranga, at both the national and regional hui offer the opportunity to contribute to the future shape of the education system. At the regional hui it has been exciting to see is that there is much consideration of how the school and the community are or could interact in a much more proactive and positive way.

By involving the community in the decisions and plans of the school, you offer an opportunity for the community to contribute to its own development. Fostering these relationships encourages communities to support the school and work alongside the schools to achieve their goals. This community investment in the school can create an environment in which students, teachers and communities can work together to achieve wider community goals.

Building and strengthening these relationships is ongoing, they take time and effort. The ability of the school and community to unite to identify and pursue common goals will build pride within the community and help with the creation of a positive supportive school and community environment.

I ask you all here today to talk to yourselves, build your own relationships with your colleagues – share and learn together, keep in contact beyond this conference, be as willing to receive support, as you may be to offer it.

Your students see you set high expectations of yourselves. They watch you as you try to attain those lofty heights and they will see you learn from your mistakes along the way and eventually reach your goals.

Success breeds success.

By showing them that you may not always succeed at first but you are persistent and committed, success will be yours. This will assist you create the environment for your students where they are willing to 'give it a go'.

Oceania Mercier spoke of one teacher who inspired her. I know that before me today, are teachers who have inspired many students.

Piki te kaha, piki te ora, piki te maramatanga is the goal for Maori education. It is also the goal for all in education, whanau, students and teachers and communities.

We've got some of the answers and some of the questions on how to achieve piki te ora, piki te kaha, piki te maramatanga and move us forward.

We're committed to improving the educational achievement levels of Maori students and improving your own knowledge and skill.

We know that you are committed to this too.

Let us move forward together.

Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

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