By: Mikaela Collins
From small town Otangarei a local teacher could be teaching te reo to a group of Maori students across the ditch.
It is the result of a relationship between Te Akatea Maori Principals Association and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Principals Association (NATSIPA), which has seen indigenous educators from New Zealand and Australia meet at a conference in Waitangi this week.
Tammy Anderson, an Aboriginal principal of Briar Road Public School in Sydney, said after attending her first Te Akatea conference she was challenged to think about what she could do for the almost 40 Maori students at her school. So she connected with Myles Ferris, principal of Te Kura o Otangarei and president of Te Akatea.
“I have a really diverse community. I have 105 Aboriginal students at my school and a large Aboriginal community. Second to that I have a large Maori population and a large Pasifika population,” Ms Anderson said.
“I have some great people in my community but how can I strengthen their connection to their home country? We figured a way we can do that is in school.”
Ms Anderson already has a kapa haka group at school and now she and Mr Ferris are in the process of setting up a virtual classroom where children from Ms Anderson’s school can connect with a teacher from Te Kura o Otangarei who can teach them te reo Maori.
Mr Ferris said he hoped to set up the virtual classroom by the next term, which starts April 30.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for my kids to see other Maori students around the world to understand where they’re at so they can see being at a Maori school in New Zealand is a benefit to them. Something that is their right is not available to every Maori child in the country or around the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Ferris said the conference, which started Wednesday and ended yesterday, was emotional as topics including discrimination, racism, and injustice were spoken about.
“It’s been incredible. There’s a huge vibe and energy here. We’ve been taken on a bit of a rollercoaster in terms of our emotions,” he said.
The relationship between Te Akatea and NATSIPA goes back to 2012. The associations’ first combined conference was held two years ago in Brisbane and its success resulted in an agreement to a combined conference every two years.
This week’s joint conference is the first time NATSIPA has visited as Northland as a group.
Mr Ferris said it has resulted in the strengthening of relationships.
“The collaboration this conference has allowed means we’re connecting so we can support one another.”
Source: Northern Advocate
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