Tuesday 11 December 2018 10:41pm
A Te Herenga a Whānau ceremony for 17 Bachelor of Teaching graduands at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff last Friday.
The University of Otago’s next generation of bicultural teachers have expressed relief, pride and determination at an emotional pre-graduation ceremony in their honour last Friday.
Seventeen Bachelor of Teaching graduands endorsed in Bicultural Education were honoured at the first of two Te Herenga a Whānau (the bringing together of family) ceremonies at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff.
A total of 27 Bachelor of Teaching graduands from the Southland campus will have their degrees conferred when they cross the Dunedin Town Hall stage on Saturday 15 December.
"Te reo is our nation's taonga. The uniqueness of this bicultural programme, and being able to study it in my home town, made this an even easier decision."
A highlight of the morning celebrations was family and friends' often emotional acknowledgements of the highs and lows graduands had experienced while studying.
For Kane Johnson (Ngāi Takoto, Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Kahu) securing a Bachelor of Teaching endorsed in Primary Bicultural Education (Te Pōkai Mātauranga o te Ao Rua) was about being a part of “another wave of change” to help children embrace te reo Māori.
“Te reo is our nation's taonga,” he says. “The uniqueness of this bicultural programme, and being able to study it in my home town, made this an even easier decision.”
Mr Johnson acknowledged staff, saying the experience underscored the importance of whanau, and encouraged members of his cohort to help make a difference in teaching te Ao and te reo Māori to the best of their abilities.
Mr Johnson’s wife Raiha, herself a Southland campus graduate, will join the College of Education’s teaching faculty next year.
For Rose Mahia, gaining a Bachelor of Teaching will help her realise a lifelong goal. She has had plenty of support from her family along the way – in fact, she is the youngest of four siblings to become a teacher.
"It is very rewarding to visit schools and early childhood centres and see that so many of the teachers are previous graduates, now making a difference in children’s lives."
Southland Campus Programme Co-ordinator Jill Paris says many students have been offered teaching positions in Southland after forming relationships with education providers while on practical placements this year.
“Aside from placements, they are already making a huge impact in the sector. Many have been busy doing daily relieving this term because of the desperate shortage of relieving teachers locally.
“Former Southland campus graduates make up a large proportion of staff in local schools and early childhood centres, as most graduates choose to remain in Southland.
“It is very rewarding to visit schools and early childhood centres and see that so many of the teachers are previous graduates, now making a difference in children’s lives. It is also very exciting to see these same teachers mentoring current students,” Paris says.
The second pre-graduation ceremony was held in Invercargill on Friday, 7 December.