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Dawson Marama-Feagai: "the staff and students make working at TWoA fun and enjoyable"

Dawson Marama-Feagai enjoys the hard-yards when it comes to helping rangatahi gain their level 2 qualifications.

The 32-year-old first started working at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in 2013 teaching the Level 4 Certificate in Health and Fitness, but has been working specifically with teens for the last two years and says it just keeps getting better.

“I enjoy the environment. I am Māori (Ngāti Whakaue, Te Arawa) Samoan and from the Cook Islands so the whānau-orientated style really suits me. Also, the staff and students make working at TWoA fun and enjoyable.”

This year his Youth Guarantee NCEA Fitness class in Whangarei took part in the filming of School of Hard Knocks, a reality tv show that uses rugby as the modality for transforming lives.

He approached the filming with an open mind and says although the real life problems that tauira go through are the main challenges, working with this class has been a blessing.

“They are one of the best classes. It’s not cheap to study, it’s hard to live off a student allowance and sometimes real-life issues can be the difference between passing and withdrawing.”

While overall he enjoyed the SOHK experience, it took Dawson a good six weeks to get his class into the routine of filming and learning but once the camera stopped, the reading, writing and researching continued.   

“I was the Kaiako, pastoral care, social worker, who was also trying to build my own relationship with them so they would want to continue. If they all graduate then I would say that SOHK was worth my time and effort.”

While everyone was focussed on making the show, Dawson says he’s learned a lot about the business of education from teaching in Whangarei, as well as a bit more about who he is as a teacher.

“I just wanted to help. There were many times post filming that I had to have talks with the tauira. The programme could make a big impact on the community, but my objective for the class was to try and help these tauira gain their level two qualification.”

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