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Thursday 20 December 2018 10:18am

Kane Johnson is welcomed to Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff during pre-graduation celebrations earlier this month.

The importance of support from family, lecturers and peers when completing teacher training cannot be underestimated, graduand Kane Johnson told guests at the Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff earlier this month.

Kane, whose Te Pōkai Mātauranga O te Ao Rua Bachelor of Teaching degree (endorsed in Primary Bicultural Education) was conferred in Dunedin on 15 December, spoke on behalf of his cohort at pregraduation celebrations for the programmes’ 17 students.

A highlight of the celebrations was the graduands’ families speaking about what gaining qualifications meant for their friends and whānau and, in a heart-felt tribute, Kane’s wife Raiha expressed her pride in her husband’s commitment to studying, and his genuine desire to spread awareness of te ao Māori.

Raiha is also well qualified to offer her husband advice on the realities of teaching having trained at the Southland campus, graduating in 2006, and having worked in the sector since. She will join the College of Education’s teaching faculty in 2019.

Kane, who is of Ngāi Takoto, Ngāpuhi and Ngati Kāhu descent, says studying at the College of Education’s Southland campus was an “obvious choice.”

“Being Māori, I want to be part of another wave of change in enabling all tamariki in our kura to celebrate, embrace and love te ao and te reo Māori. Te reo is our nation's taonga. The uniqueness of this bicultural programme, and with it being taught in my home town, made this an even easier decision.”

Earlier work in social and health services were also factors.

Kane and wife Raiha at her graduation in 2006

“Experiences in these fields prior to entering training made me feel I could do more to help our tamariki. Also, my wife and sister-in-law are teachers, so watching whānau and friends in the profession has grown my awareness, appreciation and admiration for them and other professionals in education.”

Working in schools appeals because the impact of teachers “on tamariki is unmeasurable,” he says.

“Tamariki are seeds of wonder! Some of us can relate to a key teacher that had some influence or impact on us, and I hope to be that important teacher for someone – I want children's experiences in kura to be positive, awesome and engaging.”

Entering the programme as a mature student at 38 – after “being a dad, working in Whānau Ora, information technology, social media, youth mentoring and DJ'ing” – was a positive experience.

“It was beneficial for me, as much as I was nervous, because my life’s journey had provided me with lots of rich experiences that were applicable at university.”

Kane completed practical placements at Bluff School and Riverton Primary school, and did a year-two placement at Southland Boys' High School. He did his final year-three placement at Saint Patrick’s School in Invercargill, and says he was thrilled to have been offered a job at this “awesome” school before his final study year had finished.

He advises all people considering training to take the bicultural programme.

“It is not a place where you will be sitting in class, listening in full te reo Māori and thinking you won't understand.

“The programme gives you knowledge understanding and appreciation for te ao Māori. It will challenge and open your thinking in a hugely supportive way while building a deep awareness of working with not just Māori learners, but all learners. It has been an amazing learning journey for me personally.”

Kane credits the entire Southland staff campus as being exceptional, and says he now describes them as whānau.

“Everyone from Dot our cleaner to Jill the head of campus knows you, and they are part of what makes the Southland campus a treasure. I would like to pay special tribute to Matua Parker Ormond the lead lecturer of Te Pōkai Mātauranga O te Ao Rua. I’d also like to acknowledge Pauline Smith (College of Education0 and Hannah Rikiti, my third-year associate teacher.”

“I also feel privileged to have studied at a campus dedicated to teacher training at a time when our profession is in crisis. This campus is critical to ensuring the development and training of tomorrow's teachers,” he says.

Kane received a Kupe Scholarship (TEACHNZ) and also acknowledges the Norman Jones Foundation for assisting him in completing his teaching qualifications.

(Below: Kane addresses staff, guests and whānau on behalf of the 2018 Te Pokai cohort on 7 December).


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