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Awards recognise important diversity of educators delivering a world-class learner experience

Awards recognise important diversity of educators delivering a world-class learner experience

Last updated 11 August 2017
Last updated 11 August 2017

A modern-day tohunga (expert) weaves computer science and te Reo into the classroom while a legend helps hundreds of learners transition towards a life of positive and transformational change. This is only some of the work done by 12 tertiary teachers honoured at the sixteenth Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards held at Parliament this week. 

 “It was an excellent opportunity to recognise and celebrate the impact these teachers have had on their students. We listened to inspiring stories of ako (meaning to learn, study, instruct, teach, or advise) and reciprocity in teaching journeys,” says Lisale Falema’a, Tertiary Education Commission’s Senior Advisor Strategy and Priorities who attended to awards ceremony. 

Dr Te Taka Keegan, the recipient of both the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award and a Kaupapa Maori Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching Award is an expert in teaching, research, innovation and computer science. 

Dr Keegan, a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Waikato, skilfully weaves te Reo Māori and computer science together and helps learners study computer science in te Reo. He is the only person who can teach a computer science paper in te Reo. With a career spanning 30 years his teaching philosophy is grounded in tribal ancestral knowledge. 

Students tell of a superb teacher who is creative, compassionate and persistent, with an engaging manner that has made him an extremely popular teacher and colleague. 

Beyond the teaching environment he, among other things, worked with Microsoft to macronise the keyboard, now a Microsoft standard. He also worked on the translation of Office 2003 and Windows XP into Māori. The Niupepa Collection he developed is now digitised as a historical collection of Māori language newspapers, which was released on microfiche by the Alexander Turnbull Library.  

Rt Hon Bill English honoured Dr Keegan with a korowai (traditional flax and feather Māori cloak made in early times to be worn as a mantle of prestige and honour), called Rauaroha, to acknowledge the mana of the Supreme Award and the person who receives it. It symbolises his tertiary teaching excellence at the highest level.  

Gail Harrison, lead educator and manager of the Whanganui Learning Centre Trust was honoured for her tireless contribution as educator and advocate for inter-generational change for over three decades. She is an inspirational leader and champion of participatory learning and strength-based approaches to learning and teaching. 

Responsible for up to 500 learners a year, of whom approximately 80% are indigenous students or students of other ethnicities, her primary focus is addressing inequality of education provision for indigenous and low income groups. Her success in helping people transition towards a life of positive and transformational change has become legendary. 

Students and colleagues attest to her extraordinary ability to value and affirm students, sometimes for the first time in their lives. A student wrote: “You have showed me the way to become a strong woman and taught me that I can succeed in life, pushing me to be confident, and go the extra mile in learning.” 

About the Awards

Ako Aotearoa’s Director, Dr Stanley Frielick said of the event: “Celebrating excellent teaching is part of Ako Aotearoa’s core business. Our award winners all demonstrate the ‘X-factor’ that makes them truly special teachers. They create the kinds of inspirational learning experiences that ignite inquiry and engagement with the subject, and help shape students’ identities and pathways to future careers.”

Now in its sixteenth year, the Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards showcase outstanding tertiary teachers who know what it takes to deliver a world-class learner experience. This year 12 educators were honoured. 

For more information about the award winners visit the Ako Aotearoa website.

For more information about the funding of Ako Aotearoa visit the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence fund page.

For more information about the Centre visit the Ako Aotearoa website.


Photograph courtesy of Ako Aoteoroa - The National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence