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Ivan Kana took a different road into teaching than most. After pursuing a number of different career paths, he found himself naturally drawn to teaching.

“A lot of work that I was doing revolved around working with people,” he said in reference to his previous jobs as a school holiday programme worker, a community health worker, and a personal trainer.

This experience of working with people in different roles encouraged him to consider a new and meaningful career, he eventually “bit the bullet” and started the process of becoming a teacher.

During his teacher education at Waikato University, the university’s Māori Liaison Officer told Ivan about TeachNZ’s prestigious Kupe Scholarship, which is awarded each year to just 30 aspiring teachers of Māori or Pacific descent who intend to become an outstanding role model in early childhood, primary or secondary education. The scholarship helped Ivan to obtain a graduate diploma in secondary teaching.

“When I was chosen, I was super stoked – not just for myself but also for my whānau.”

Ivan’s whānau has played a huge role in his journey.

“My Dad and my aunties taught me tikanga and kawa. Thanks to the start they gave me, I have te reo Māori.”

Te reo Māori is Ivan’s second language, but it’s getting stronger as he continues to develop as a teacher.

Now in his fourth year of teaching at Aotea College, where he teaches Health and Physical Education, Dance and Te reo Māori, Ivan humbly considers himself a “work in progress”. He says he continues to learn a lot from his colleagues and his students.

He refers to the “little one per centers” – small things he’s picked up from other teachers that make a big difference and save a lot of time.

“As well as what I teach, I offer my students a sense of their culture and identity. And at the same time, I’m still learning myself.

“Which means my students are part of my journey now too. They’re continuing to grow. And so am I.”

His advice to others considering a career in teaching: don’t delay.

“I think that everyone can offer something. It’s just whether they have that passion.”

Applications close for this round of 2019 TeachNZ Scholarships on 14 June 2019 (except Kupe Scholarships which open again soon). More information about the TeachNZ Scholarships can be found here.


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