Making a positive difference for local whānau and supporting the community in a myriad of ways is a big buzz for staff at the Kawerau campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, which is celebrating its 10th anniversay this coming Monday 15 July.
“We’re very honoured to serve our community – that’s first and foremost for us,” says Kawerau’s kaiwhakahaere ako (manager educational delivery) Jacqueline McRae-Tarei.
The celebrations on Monday will involve a pōwhiri at 10am for dignitaries, past kaimahi and current staff from other areas. There will also be the unveiling of a new name for the site in Islington St, currently known simply as Te Wānanga o Aotearoa ki Kawerau. The new name has been gifted by kaumatua from Ngāti Tūwharetoa.
The campus opened at its current site in 2009. Before that Te Wānanga o Aotearoa had operated at various locations around Kawerau from 2002, with te reo, raranga and sports courses amongst its earliest offerings. Now there is a total of eight courses offered in the Bay of Plenty town, including computing, forestry, tikanga and tourism.
Student numbers have grown from the equivalent of around 50 full-timers in 2002 to about 100 in 2009 and 190 now. There’s currently a solid successful course completion rate of around 70 per cent.
Jacqueline - a former Kawerau campus tauira herself who’s moved on to doing a PhD in mātauranga Māori related to raranga - is passionate about helping others in Kawerau to make progress.
“It goes back to that old saying we have about our Te Wānanga of Aotearoa goal of enabling whānau transformation through education.
“The courses we offer have helped create pathways to employment and assisted local people to connect with Māori culture. Creating these positive waves has led to some great outcomes for individuals and the wider community.”
About half of the campus staff are former tauira. “Having been on the learning journey ourselves, and seen the positive results of it, we all really enjoy helping others to be successful as well.”
Besides working for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, staff in their own time are heavily involved in a range of community events, such as organising Waitangi Day celebrations.
“So, apart from our 10th year in our current location, we’re also celebrating the strong relationships we have created and the good outcomes we and local people have achieved through education.”
Media are welcome to attend the pōwhiri.
Media contact for queries before the pōwhiri: Stephen Ward 021 756 310