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Saskatchewan visit to Te Kotahitanga - 3rd-14th November 2013

22 November 2013

Members from the Te Kotahitanga team, schools and the New Zealand Ministry of Education hosted educators from Saskatchewan, Canada as part of a Te Kotahitanga knowledge exchange. Fourteen educationalists made the exchange, some of whom were Ministry of Education officials and other eucators from across the province. Amongst the visitors were representatives of the First Nation and Metis peoples.

The visit provided an eleven day experience, that included traveling the central North Island to visit seven Te Kotahitanga schools. School visits began with visits to Napier Boys’ High School and William Colenso College. The visitors were greeted warmly and shown the work that goes into the implementation of Te Kotahitanga. From Napier the group moved onto Wairoa College to have conversations with staff and students. Travelling through to Gisborne Girls’ High School the group enjoyed a day observing in classes and meeting the facilitation team. That evening the group were hosted by Bubbles Reedy and whānau from Lytton High at a local restaurant.

What better place to spend the weekend than in the tourism capital of New Zealand, Rotorua.  Mitai Māori Village offered the visitors from Saskatchewan an authentic Maori experience, showing them a glimpse into te ao Māori and the traditions and customs that go hand in hand. The group was enthralled by the activities, the kapa haka performances and the food, a traditional hangi.

Monday bought more observations and facilitation meetings at Rotorua Boys’ High School where they were again well looked after by the principal, staff, students and family members. The journey was then across to Taupo-nui-a-Tia College where again a great opportunity was provided to see how another Te Kotahitanga School used the Te Kotahitanga relational and cultural pedagogies to engage with their Māori students and make connections to the land and with local iwi.

The group was then invited to the Te Kotahitanga Hui Whakanukunuku which took place at the Waikato-Tainui Research and Development College. Here, they again experienced the Te Kotahitanga foundations, they got to listen to Te Kotahitanga School Principals speaking about their experiences of leading a Te Kotahitanga School and they got to hear an analysis of Te Kotahitanga over time from Chief Education Advisor to the Ministry, Dr Adrienne Alton-Lee. Here they heard about the changes, improvements and milestones that these schools have made due to their implementation of the Te Kotahitanga principles and practices. They also got to hear the most recent, preliminary analysis from Phase 5 schools.

We do hope that they have taken with them some knowledge that may help them improve their educational outcomes for their own indigenous students. They have seen at first-hand the shifts and remarkable outcomes that have come out of the Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 Schools and as a result we hope that we have helped in their pursuit of the advancement of indigenous learners to learn within their own relational and culturally responsive contexts in schools.

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