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Lucy Marshall (Muaūpoko), Paiana Whaanga (Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungungu), and Tivaini Fomai (Samoa), are among 30 recipients selected nationwide this year.
The Ministry of Education’s TeachNZ Kupe Scholarships, worth $15,000 as well as covering the cost of course fees, are awarded to “highly talented Māori and Pasifika people who have leadership expertise, and who will be role models of the teaching profession in their communities.”
Each spoke of their commitment and passion to encouraging the next generation through education, and in particular through empowering whānau and communities through the teaching of tikanga Māori values.
Ms Marshall, a Palmerston North-based Māori High Achiever enrolled in a Masters of Teaching and Learning (Primary) degree, says her love of “helping others and building relationships with people, both of which are at the heart of teaching” is her motivation to study.
She holds a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Environment Studies. In 2015, she helped set up an early childhood centre in Palmerston North called the Secret Garden Childcare. As a new graduate, she says the experience helped her as a kaiako (teacher) and a leader, and enabled her to gain more confidence in speaking Te Reo Māori and practicing within Te Ao Māori [Māori world] context.
Her dream is to; “positively impact educational achievement for Māori and Pasifika learners. I hope to help students realise what they are capable of, and work in partnership with them and their families. I’m also hoping to empower tamariki to have a strong sense of identity – I want students to know where they come from, and to be proud of that, so they can know where they are going.”
Manawatū-based Ms Whaanga is a Māori High Achiever studying towards a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Primary). She attended kohanga reo at the Koraunui marae until her family moved to Napier, where she attended Maraenui Billingual School, then secondary school at St Joseph’s Māori Girls College.
“My late father was a teacher, and he is my spiritual guidance through this journey,” she says
She also acknowledges her Pakeha mother’s “constant support and aroha for her tamariki” in “sustaining Te Reo Māori me ona tikanga [Māori language and customs] in our home and in our lives.”
She brings artistic flair and knowledge to her teaching career, having graduated with a Bachelor in Applied Visual Imaging from UCOL, where she pursued her passion “to create, express and explore who I am through the camera lens. I grew from it and learnt from it. But I kept turning to teaching.
“Wondering if I could follow in the big footsteps my father left behind, and after having my son and becoming a mum, my desire to contribute to the next generation became a hunger.”
Tivaini Fomai, from the Hawke’s Bay, is a Pasifika High Achiever enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary) in Health and Physical Education, a former Manu Samoa rugby player and a graduate of Hawkes Bay’s Eastern Institute of Technology.
He’s played professionally for the Hawkes Bay Magpies, but gave up rugby after donating a kidney to his mother in 2016 - the same year he set up Hawkes Bay Samoa Rugby as an incorporated society.
The father of three is chair and coach of the club, which aims is to help create opportunities for young rugby players to get exposure and play outside of the season. He’s also a coach for the Hastings Rugby and Sport Premiers and a mentor and rugby coach at Hastings Boy’s High rugby academies, as well as a member of the Hawkes Bay District Health Board’s Pacific Leadership Group and is currently Mr December in the Flaxmere Heroes Calendar 2017.
He juggles study with fulltime work as a night supervisor for people with intellectual disabilities at Hohepa Hawke's Bay's residential care facility, turning to his textbooks when he can during the 9pm to 7am shifts.
"I'm thankful for the job because it allows me to do a bit of study at work rather than doing it at home with the kids," he told Stuff media in a recent interview.
Mr Fomai describes the scholarship, which will cover his year's course costs, as a "massive blessing" that will take financial pressure off his family.
For Ms Marshall, “It’s very humbling to receive such a prestigious award that recognises hard work and my desire to make a difference.”
Ms Whaanga feels humbled and honoured to be a Kupe Scholarship recipient. “It’s a resource and a taonga,” which, she says, supports her studies and future aspirations.
Recipients also received a taonga keepsake which for Māori recipients is a hoe (the stylised paddle), and for Pasifika winners a vaka/waka/va'a. “These taonga mean a lot to each of us,” says Ms Marshall. “They have designs on them which represent our commitment to charting new territory, as Kupe did.”
Kupe, according to tribal narrative, is the Polynesian navigator who discovered the islands of Aotearoa.
For more information on the Kupe Scholarships for Māori and Pasifika High Achievers click here.
Created: 09/08/2017 | Last updated: 09/08/2017
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