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Celebrating Our New Teachers

“It’s time we honoured our new teachers,” says Te Rito Maioha Chief Executive Kathy Wolfe. Our graduations across the motu celebrated our teachers’ successes. Without being disrespectful, no one remembers the bank executive that approved your home loan, but everyone remembers the teacher that sparked your interest in a subject or found and encouraged a talent you had.”

There were 372 graduates this year at Te Rito Maioha across 11 regional locations. Of those, 262 are now qualified ECE teachers and 30 graduates have graduated as our first ever cohort of primary teachers.

“Teachers are often the people that help nurture and shape who we become,” says Kathy, “whether it’s the coach of your sporting team that propels you to represent Aotearoa on the world stage, or the science teacher that inspires a technological breakthrough.”

“Teachers take on a massive role educating and mentoring our youngest tamariki in Early Childhood Education (ECE), Primary, Secondary, and then in Tertiary Education. Teachers shape our lives in a multitude of ways and have helped create a country renowned for punching above its weight on the world stage.”

“They also make significant investment, commitment and sacrifices to become qualified and at a recent graduation in Palmerston North, a young boy had this to say about his dad.”

“I’m really proud of you dad… and I love you. And I remember when you were first studying, I would always ask you if you could play games or just do something together, but you were always going back to study, but now we can do some fun stuff together.”

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“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” says Kathy Wolfe. “Every family in the room across all our graduations had made similar sacrifices to support their person to complete their teacher education study which is either a year for a Graduate Diploma in teaching or three years for an undergraduate teaching degree. Thereafter all teachers have to complete at least two years provisional registration including induction and mentoring, before they are considered ‘fully registered certificated teachers’.

“Teachers are highly qualified, and any parents that have ever looked after multiple children know that simply holding the attention of children can be challenging, let alone teaching them. I think it’s time we recognise the role teachers play and the difference they make to the lives of tamariki.”

“Let’s treat our teaching professionals with an appropriate degree of respect. ECE teachers are being actively poached by Australia while both ECE and primary schools in New Zealand are finding it tough to fill vacant positions. This can change for us if there is a shift in how politicians speak about the profession and acknowledge the important work they do. If the government put in place a valued proposition in attracting and retaining teachers with a robust teacher workforce strategy this signals the importance they place on children’s education.”

In difficult covid and economic times, Te Rito Maioha has been attracting and retaining strong student numbers applying to become ECE and Primary teachers. This is a testament to the quality of the programmes and qualifications, our bicultural Kaupapa and focus on pastoral care which has proved invaluable while dealing with adverse events.

“Our student cohort of 2023 weathered Covid and natural disasters and came out rearing to go, excited about their futures and ready to teach.” says Kathy Wolfe. “We also had our first cohort of primary teachers graduate which is also very exciting.

Te Rito Maioha programmes are predominantly online with students working in schools or ECE centres as they progress through their study, so our students are putting into practice what they learn every day and are confident and competent teachers when they graduate.

Graduations are held across seven locations from Auckland to Dunedin and are unique in that friends and whānau are given an opportunity to speak at the ceremonies and celebrate their graduate.

“It’s been so heartening to see so many of these students make it across the finish line,” says Kathy. “They’ve had a myriad of obstacles from Covid shutting down the world as we knew it, to floods across Northland, Auckland and the East Coast. That’s not something any student prepares for, but it shows the resilience of this cohort of graduates and demonstrates the pastoral care that we put in place to ensure the wellbeing of our students.”

“The staff gave me a great deal of support and a real welcoming vibe. It was challenging balancing a full-time job and studying, but Te Rito Maioha staff were always there to support us, and they knew what we were going through. So go for it, follow your dreams and you won’t regret studying here.” Gian Carlos Zarate, Graduate Diploma of Teaching (ECE).

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