On the outskirts of Rotorua you will find Rotokawa School, a small school that makes a big impact in the lives of their students and community.
School principal, Regan Williams, credits much of the school’s success to his kaimahi and the great culture they have worked together to create.
Shane Stephens, recent Te Wānanga o Aotearoa graduate, is one of those kaimahi. With encouragement from Regan, he completed the Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching) programme after having been a teacher aide at the school.
“The thing that I liked about it (Te Wānanga o Aotearoa) is that they were supportive throughout Shane’s studies. Now he’s employed with us, the parents love him and he’s doing a great job,” says Regan.
Rotokawa School pride themselves in the relationships they have within their community and the whānau who are a part of that community. They also work closely with their local hapū and iwi to instill the importance of te ao Māori, reo, and tikanga Māori in their students.
“Te ao Māori is a huge aspect in our school. It’s good to teach children about the culture to help them learn more about who they are. It’s a huge part of education,” says Regan.
By embracing Māori philosophies, principles, and mātauranga Māori within the Bachelor of Education programme at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, tauira are empowered to become culturally responsive and reflective and allows them the ability to work with a diverse range of learners.
Regan agrees that it’s important for those studying to be teachers to be well equipped to work with tamariki from a wide range of backgrounds.
“There’s a whole heap of different learners in class. Teachers have to adapt to this and how we can teach all of these students. Learning what it takes to teach won’t come from the books alone,” says Regan.
As there is a shortage, Regan emphasises that he would love to see more New Zealanders with a heart for young people training to become teachers, especially Māori and those who can kōrero Māori, knowing there is space for them to thrive.
For those interested in studying a Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching) through a te ao Māori lens, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa offers the programme at their Hamilton (Mangakōtukutuku), Māngere, and Rotorua campuses.