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Supporting tamariki to walk tall and proud

28 August 2018

Conrad WaitoaA grant from the Hastings District Council’s contestable grants fund is a big boost to Inspire in Education’s aims to help young Māori learners achieve success, says the charitable trust’s founder and general manager Conrad Waitoa.

In this year’s funding round Inspire in Education, which was founded in February 2017, was one of 32 community organisations to receive a council grant, awarded $9,500 to put towards its youth development programme.

Mr Waitoa says the trust was formed to provide a range of professional learning and development services to assist schools with Māori cultural competence standards and Māori curriculum design, and to prepare Māori students for educational success and good employment opportunities.

It was introduced at Havelock North Intermediate School, of which Mr Waitoa is the Board of Trustees chairman, and uses a kaupapa Māori approach to identify students’ strengths, weaknesses, career and education goals.

“It’s well known that Māori students, in particular Māori boys, not all, but some, are often over-represented at the tail-end of our educational achievement curve, with substantially lower achievement in writing, reading, maths and technology than their female classmates, and most certainly compared to Pākehā students of the same age, and in the same learning environments.

“So it stands to reason that we must have targets aimed at improving the achievement of Māori boys in education.”

To that end, his programme uses innovative, relevant and contemporary methods to engage, interact with, and keep the learner interested in and yearning for further education, he says.

This includes supporting the delivery of Māori language culture and identity in the classroom among communities of learning, providing schools with evidence-based advice to lift Māori student achievement, assisting with wraparound services for students at risk of underachievement, and fostering successful partnerships with parents, whanau, hapū, iwi, communities, and businesses focused on educational success for Māori.

Since starting, discussions have been held about introducing the programme to other intermediate schools in the Hastings district, and he has engaged in professional development with teachers – the overall mission being for Inspire in Education to be no longer needed in a generation’s time.

Initially self-funded, Mr Waitoa says the council’s assistance has “given the programme hope and will enable us to inspire more akonga (students).

“It’s a step forward to achieving our mission goals: to see our tamariki walking tall and proud in both worlds – te ao Māori me te ao Pākehā (the Māori world and the Pākehā world), which will replace the commonly used labels such as ‘at risk’ with ‘at promise’ and ‘vulnerable’ with ‘valuable’ by producing rangatira for the future.

“Rangatira being our leaders, future parents, employers and kaiako to their whanau.”

Ultimately, he says the goal is to expand the programme further across Hawke’s Bay.

Council social and cultural development committee chairman Malcolm Dixon says the project is meeting a real need in the community.

“It’s providing our Māori youth with an opportunity to experience success by identifying their own goals and setting achievable targets around them.

“The committee felt this project had huge potential and we were keen to support it in its infancy.”

28 August 2018

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