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Source: University of Otago

From a school in Moscow to local classrooms, six recently appointed College of Education staff bring a wealth of education-sector knowledge to teaching, research and governance positions.
Professor Jeff Smith
The new staff are Academic Manager Melissa Bell; Early Childhood Education Professional Practice Fellow Amie Curtis; Primary Education Professional Practice Fellow Maria Kewene-Edwards; Secondary Education Professional Practice Fellow Iain McGilchrist; Primary and Secondary Education Professional Practice Fellow Karina Nafatali and Education Support Services Director Davina Hunt.
College of Education Dean Professor Jeff Smith says the recent appointments “will have beneficial outcomes across the board”.
“All or our recent appointees have a genuine desire to advance learning for our students, and help our sector, and all have valuable experience which will help them make significant contributions in a range of areas, from governance to bicultural teaching.”
Melissa Bell, Academic Manager
Melissa is a Dunedin College of Education and Otago Bachelor of Arts (History) graduate.
Melissa Bell
Her subsequent science master’s from Curtin University considered the impact of a peer-coaching model for primary teachers in initial teacher education programmes.
A trained primary teacher, Melissa has worked in both primary and secondary schools, initial teacher education and in-service teacher support. She is a former principal of St Hilda’s Collegiate, Dunedin, and recently taught at John McGlashan, Dunedin.
“I have a real passion for History education, and I am commencing my PhD research focusing on the place of controversial histories in New Zealand secondary schools. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to return to working in teacher education.
“I am especially passionate about supporting young teachers as they learn to implement theory in the classroom. Guiding their professional placement work is a true privilege. Working with our current students, you cannot help but feel optimistic for the future of education.”
Amie Curtis, Professional Practice Fellow, Early Childhood Education
Kia ora, He uri au nō Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha me Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa. Nō Waihōpai ahau ekari kai Ōtepoti tōku kaika inaianei. Ko Amie Curtis tōku ikoa.
Amie Curtis
Amie joined the College in January as an Early Childhood Professional Practice Fellow after working for her hapū at Te Rūnaka o Ōtākou in education for two years. Prior to that she was Assistant Head Teacher at Te Pārekereke o te Kī at the Otago University Childcare Association.
“I am passionate about supporting our Māori whānau through their education and just as passionate about supporting our Kaiako on their bicultural journey. Having the opportunity to work here at Te Kura Ākau Taitoka and to support the future Kaiako of our tamariki is an honour. I am passionate about supporting our whānau in their educational pathways.”
Amie loves spending time with whānau, playing netball “very socially” and having a good waiata session.
Maria Kewene-Edwards, Professional Practice Fellow, Primary Education
He mihi mahana ki a koutou. He uri ahau nō Ngāti Hikairo me Ngāti Haua ki Waikato, Nō Ingarangi i te taha o tōku māmā. Ko Maria Kewene-Edwards tōku ingoa.
Maria Kewene-Edwards
Maria comes to the College after a successful teaching and syndicate-leader role at North East Valley Normal School. Maria attended the College as a student, then as a lecturer.
“Now, in my new role, and after 30 years’ teaching in primary education and more recently in a bi-lingual unit, I feel like I’ve come full circle.”
I have had many exciting educational opportunities, including being a Māori Advisor for NMSSA, administrator of NMSSA tasks, developing Te Rōpū Manaaki Bi-lingual unit, Senior Syndicate leader-NEVN School, Acting Principal ki Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti and many more.”
Maria’s passion for the arts comes from her parent’s interest in music and theatre. She is a classically trained flutist and majored in music.
“Music tuition and performance was the only reason I went to high school – oh and to eat my lunch.”
Maria says her Māori and English ancestry are both important to her sense of identity; her Māori heritage has motivated her to “question how Māori is reflected in our education system and developing Māori medium classes in a Pākeha education system.”
“I am excited in what I can bring to my work, teaching, study and collaboration with my peers to support you in your journey. Poipoia te kakano kia puāwai.”Iain McGilchrist, Professional Practice Fellow, Secondary Education
Iain began teaching at the “imaginatively named” School Number 44 in Moscow and has also taught in the UK. He trained as a teacher at the Southland campus of Dunedin College of Education in the mid-1990s. Much of his career in New Zealand was spent at Kavanagh College and more recently at John McGlashan College in Dunedin.
Iain McGilchrist
He has taught English, history, media studies and Russian and especially enjoys teaching English because it is all about the power of language. He has a strong interest in classroom dialogue and classroom culture, and he believes that the key to success in these areas is the teacher’s control of language.
At Otago Iain has worked as the Manager of Undergraduate Entrance Scholarships and in Schools’ Liaison. He has also been closely involved with Pūtea Tautoko since its inception under lockdown last year.
“I have a strong interest in crucial classroom dialogue and how teachers can create the right climate in classrooms to enable flourishing. I love literature, shoes, bad puns and fencing (swords, not animal enclosures).”
Karina Nafatali, Professional Practice Fellow, Primary and Secondary Education
Karina, who was born in Samoa but was raised and educated in Dunedin, says learning and education have been integral parts of her Pasifika heritage and upbringing.
Karina Nafatali
“My parents, church, and Pasifika communities are the teachers of my culture, while my formal schooling has been via the New Zealand education system. I have completed a BA in Geography, Post-Graduate Teaching Diploma (Primary), and currently in the final stages of a Masters of Indigenous Studies. My dual worlds of education are where my research interests lie; Pasifika learning in New Zealand society.”
Karina taught at Kaikorai Valley College for 21 years, during which time she was Head of Department in Social Sciences, Year Level Dean, Pasifika Liaison, and a classroom teacher in various subjects from Year 7 to Year 13.
“I love teaching. Being part of the team at the College of Education excites me to share my teaching philosophies with those who will continue the mahi for Aotearoa’s future generations.”
Karina has enjoyed participating in many sports over the years, and has recently coaching netball, rugby, and touch rugby teams, including Zingari-Richmond Pirates women’s and the University women’s team to banners and is also the Otago Spirit assistant coach.
Education Support Services Director Davina HuntNew Director of Education Support Services Davina Hunt’s career began in conservation science. She has spent more than 25 years in a career “committed to enhancing intrinsic motivation, engagement and achievement through authentic learning contexts in and outside the classroom by teaching science and sustainability education.”
Davina Hunt
Davina has been director of her own consultancy and executive member of the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education (NZAEE) for many years. She has worked in and collaborated with schools, kura, NGOs, iwi and government agencies; developed Mātauranga Whakauka Taiao (the cross-government National Strategy in Environmental Education for Sustainability); University of Otago Science Wānanga; Orokonui Ecosanctuary education service; Enviroschools in Otago; LEOTC at Dunedin Botanic Gardens, interactive science at Otago Museum and delivered many other education initiatives for adults, tertiary, secondary and primary students and teachers in and outside the classroom.
Davina holds postgraduate degrees in Education, Wildlife Management, and a Master of Teaching and Learning from the University of Otago. Last year she enjoyed a Royal Society Te Apārangi placement with He Kaupapa Hononga: Otago’s Climate Change Research Network and is on the education working group of Whaiao Education for Sustainability (UN Recognised Regional Centre of Expertise).
“Coming out of a primary classroom is a privilege as I feel in tune with the current challenges facing our schools, kura and communities.”
Davina enjoys kayaking, gardening and contributing to local sustainability initiatives.

MIL OSI