Panguru teachers graduate with masters degrees

Seven teachers from Te Kura Taumata o Panguru in Northland have been awarded their masters degrees in contemporary education.

It's hoped that their newfound skills will enable them to develop tools and resources to teach students about technology and increase the potential of Panguru.

The degree is run by academyEX (formerly The Mind Lab / Tech Futures Lab), which runs over 14 NZQA-accredited courses.

Kura principal Mina Pomare-Peita wanted her staff to take advantage of the skills at AcademyEx.

"We saw an opportunity where we could grow. That's why we came to Academy for our iwi of Te Rarawa, and of Hokianga. That's the reason we are on this journey."

Their work will be presented to their Te Rarawa iwi and will become a part of the strategic plan.


'Needing to upskill'

academyEX general manager Fee Webby says entrepreneur Frances Valintine started Mindlab to open up new ways of engaging in education.

"What we were seeing was technology and the way in which they need to teach was changing. You think about a teacher who may not have studied for 30-odd years and yet the children coming through are digital natives."

"So they were recognising that they needed to upskill themselves to ensure these children weren't getting left behind."

"We equip people with the skills and knowledge and confidence to move with the times, and so the master of education puts the individual at the heart of it, so they can choose a practice-based project, which is really hands-on."

Ani Tāpene is one of the seven who graduated with her masters. She says the degree represents the ability to adapt to the new world that children occupy.

She says part of the course meant coming up with a real-world project that included the use of technology. So she combined social media and kapa haka as an exercise for her class in Panguru.

TikTok and tradition

"TikTok is a new world for our tamariki, so merging that world with our traditional practices and making it work for them in an NZQA/NCEA purpose assessment."

"It's being able to rock with our tamariki today, our tamariki of the 21st century, so digital skills and adapting to their ao."

Another plus for academyEX is the students' ability to submit their projects in other languages.

Peata Leef was one of two students who completed the course in te reo.

"E kaha mea ana ki ngā tamariki me kōrero Māori i ngā wā katoa ki ngā wāhi katoa. Kia whakairahia tō ārero ki te reo. Nō reira, tae ki ngā whare wānanga, me pērā hoki."
We harp on to our kids about speaking Māori everywhere. So when we get to whare wānanga level, it should be the same.

Leef's project “Ki te taiao, mō te taiao, hei oranga mō tōku tuakiri” looked a revitalising some of her iwi traditions as a way in which her students could connect to their environment, to their whenua and to their culture.

academyEX makes a point of inclusive environments and students are encouraged to submit assessments in te reo Māori or in both English and Maōri for any of the programmes. Tanghata whenua and Pacific Ako scholarships are offered and Manaaki Fono is the main forum for academic, pastoral and cultural support for Māori and Pacific students.