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Bay of Plenty leads 2019 PM's Education Excellence Awards finalists

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A total of six finalists representing kōhanga reo, early learning services and schools in the Bay of Plenty were selected for this year’s Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.

Ministry of Education Deputy Secretary for Early Learning and Student Achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid says the Judging Panel has chosen a total of 20 finalists across all categories and they all demonstrated outstanding teaching practices that made a big difference not just to learners, but to their whānau and the wider community.

"They are a great example of the amazing work that is happening in early learning services, kura and schools across the country. We look forward to hearing their stories at the awards ceremony and sharing them with the rest of New Zealand," she says.

Elstree Kindergarten, Rotorua

Elstree Kindergarten is a finalist in the Excellence in Engaging category.

This kindergarten developed a strong partnership with their local marae and a shared vision with their community to ensure tikanga is a strongly embedded aspect of children’s early years. This grew into the development of strong relationships between tamariki, kaiako, whānau, and the marae, with te reo, waiata, pakiwaitara, karakia and māra kai becoming an integral part of the kindergarten’s programme.

The relationship with the marae has ensured mātauranga Māori and te reo are evident in teaching and learning in ways that reflect the identity and language of Māori children and their whānau.

The children, with the support of their whānau, have become culturally competent, confident and connected, and have developed positive attitudes towards hauora through the community garden project.

Te Kōhanga Reo o Tarimano, Awahou-North Rotorua

Te Kōhanga Reo o Tarimano is a finalist in the Excellence in Engaging category, and the 2019 Education Focus Prize - Excellence in Māori-medium Education.

They focused on getting their whānau fully engaged to enable the kōhanga to reach its full potential, and to improve and sustain positive outcomes for their tamariki as well as the iwi of Ngāti Rangiwewehi.

The kōhanga looked at the level of awareness of whānau, accessibility and barriers to attending hui, and whānau perception in relation to the benefits of kōhanga for their tamariki. They changed their leadership structure and created one management committee for whānau to streamline processes. They now use online tools to engage whānau with tamariki learning, curriculum design. They also collaborate with the wider iwi to ensure the iwi supports and contributes to the success of the kōhanga.

The kōhanga has also increased its engagement with the wider Ngāti Rangiwewehi community through various community projects, creating a stronger community together.

Rotorua Boys’ High School, Rotorua

Rotorua Boys’ High School is a finalist in three categories: Excellence in Leading, Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and Excellence in Health and Wellbeing Education.

This high school, through effective leadership and culturally responsive teaching and learning, focused on a journey of achievement for their students in the school’s hostel. Teachers as housemasters and strong involvement with whānau have provided increased educational opportunities for the students.

The high school and Tai Mitchell Hostel set out to remove the disparity of educational achievement by focusing positively on Māori potential. Māori enjoying education success as Māori has led to outstanding academic results.

Tiaki Early Learning Centre, Rotorua

Tiaki Early Learning Centre is a finalist in the Excellence in Health and Wellbeing Education category.

The kindergarten set out to authentically connect with their local community and its history and culture, so that their children are able to access the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional benefits these connections offer.

The centre reviewed its vision in consultation with their whānau and local marae, and made connections with their local schools. They wanted their children to benefit by having a strong relationship with the land to enhance their health and wellbeing and that of Papatūānuku. The programme includes environmental activities with an aim towards zero waste, and plant-based meals for their learners, which are supported through the development of many vegetable gardens.

The centre, which values place-based education, initiated a Tangata Whenuatanga day in the community involving all the children, and a visit to their marae every week.

The result has been significant growth in the health and wellbeing of the children. Learners have also developed respect and appreciation of Papatūānuku. The children have gone on to display these characteristics when they start school.

Fairhaven School, Te Puke

Fairhaven School is a finalist in two categories: Excellence in Leading, and Excellence in Health and Wellbeing Education.

Toitoi Manawa is an immersion unit at Fairhaven School, which offers a whānau-led and established Māori-medium setting where their tamariki are succeeding as Māori. Toitoi Manawa delivers localised learning experiences that are relevant and enhance Māori success.

Kaiako undertook professional development and aligned best practices. They also reviewed the support needed for the students and included relevant services as part of that support. Consultation with kaumatua, iwi and whānau is a key part of the unit’s success.

The improvement in academic outcomes has been significant, particularly in literacy. There has also been a huge improvement in student and whānau engagement with the school. Whanaungatanga and kotahitanga underpin Toitoi Manawa’s holistic approach to Māori education.

Te Kōhanga Reo ki Rotokawa, Rotorua

Te Kōhanga Reo ki Rotokawa is a finalist in the Excellence in Teaching and Learning category, and the 2019 Education Focus Prize - Excellence in Māori-medium Education.

This kōhanga embarked on a journey to develop Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho, an assessment approach grounded in kaupapa Māori principles and utilises wānanga. The approach empowered kaiako to document, analyse and present progress and achievement in a Māori way while acknowledging the important role of whānau.

Tracking progress through Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho has resulted in mokopuna becoming more confident, creative and connected in te reo and tikanga Māori.

Connections with whānau have also been strengthened, and whānau now assume a shared role in identifying and analysing learning for all kōhanga reo mokopuna.

Awards Information

The Awards celebrate groups of teachers and educators working together, and with students, whānau and communities to deliver excellent outcomes for children and young people. This year saw a total of 20 finalists across all categories.

Members of the independent Judging Panel of education experts are visiting the finalists between June and August to see their work and speak with all those involved. Winners from each category will receive $20,000 and a professional development opportunity.

The Prime Minister’s Supreme Award is selected from the four category winners. It is presented to the early learning service, school or kura that has had the greatest influence on education outcomes.

The Supreme Award winner will receive an additional $30,000 and an opportunity to represent New Zealand in an international education conference.

The Awards ceremony will be held in Wellington in September.

For more information on the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, please visit their website:

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