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Source:  Ara Institute of Canterbury

Ara Institute of Canterbury Ltd was visited on Tuesday August 11th by the Hon. Kelvin Davis (Ngāti Manu), MP for Te Tai Tokorau, New Zealand’s first Minister for Māori Crown Relations Te Arawhiti; Minister of Corrections; Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Education (Māori Education); and Rino Tirikatene (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Hine), MP for Te Tai Tonga and Chairperson of the Māori Affairs Select Committee and Taipari Mahanga, (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Korora), Rino Tirikatene’s Events Coordinator and Cultural and Community Advisor.

The Minister visited Ara with the aim of gaining a sense of how Ara is progressing in terms of Māori learner engagement and success, and he was briefed by Te Marino Lenihan, Ara’s Kaiārahi Director of Māori Development, on the status of the Institute’s very first ‘Framework for Māori Achievement’ (FMA).

The Framework is a response to the recent Government-led reform of the vocational education sector which led to the establishment of NZIST in April of this year. The advent of NZIST was accompanied by a very clear expectation from the Minister of Education – the Hon. Chris Hipkins – that each NZIST subsidiary was to prioritise the Crown’s commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and focus on delivering equitable outcomes for Māori learners.

The visit was an exceptionally timely one, as Ara Māori leadership were set to release details of the Framework on Wednesday August 12th. The strategy document is closely aligned with the Government’s refreshed Māori Education Strategy, ‘Ka Hikitia’, released in June 2020, which contains an equally clear focus on achieving equitable education, employment and income levels for all Māori.

To realise Ara’s overall vision for the Framework for Māori achievement, “whānau transformation through education, enterprise and agency”, a gradual weaving of kaupapa and matauranga Māori into all aspects of Ara is planned, an approach which research has shown to lead to greater achievement and success. This will also help other people to share a genuine understanding of Te Ao Māori, and gain the confidence and competence to successfully ‘cross the bridge’ (Te Arawhiti) that links the two New Zealand cultures.

Te Marino Lenihan (Ngāi Tahu) recognises the fundamental role that education has to play in whānau and community wellbeing; socially, economically and environmentally. “Education has the potential to transform lives, and is most powerful when teaching and learning is done in ways that really resonate with students and teachers. If we can give our students positive experiences from the beginning of their journey through education until the end, then we will lift achievement and set sail for long-term, equitable education, employment and income levels for all Māori. The key will be authenticity.”

Both Lenihan and Head of the Department of Humanities, Hemi Hoskins (Ngāti Hau) were among the first Ara representatives to receive the guests, ushering them onto the Madras campus to meet with some of Ara’s Te Reo Māori tauira.

The group of students represented learners with wide variety of motivations and aspirations, with each of them taking the opportunity to introduce themselves to the visitors in Te Reo Māori.

Mr. Davis spoke to the assembled tauira about his own journey towards fluency in Te Reo Māori, sharing with the students his gradual realization of how important the language was to his sense of self-identity, his interaction with his whanau and to his professional development. He then welcomed a range of questions from the students.