It doesn't get any better
One of the first tasks I was handed when I started work at Ako Aotearoa in 2009 was to finalise the criteria for the newly created Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards (TTEA) in a Kaupapa Māori setting. I know I should say it was an amazing opportunity but at the time I was more concerned about getting it right than anything else – especially when you have people of the calibre of Dr Rawiri Taonui, Dr Kathie Irwin, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and others looking over your shoulder! Knowing also that the final document had to go to the Minister for Tertiary Education for sign off added to the already sky high quality demand.
Not long after I was asked to be the Ako Aotearoa Māori Caucus representative on the selection panel. In 2010 when the first award for sustained teaching excellence in a Kaupapa Māori setting was made to Te Kahautu Maxwell, I was filled with pride (and relief). In part it was because we had an amazing first recipient. It was the realisation of a lot of work and planning but also because the criteria worked.
This year the selection panel came to the conclusion that two awards would be made for sustained teaching excellence in a Kaupapa Māori setting and that one of those awardees would also receive the Prime Minister’s Award – the top award for the night. You can imagine the agony I had to go through keeping my mouth shut when I really wanted to scream the result from the tops of the trees. I managed it however and I managed to suppress a tear or two as Sandra Morrison of Te Arawa and Waikato University received her award. However when Professor Michael Walker of Te Whakatohea and the University of Auckland was announced supreme winner tears of pride flowed freely as he received his award to a standing ovation in front of his proud parents, Professor Ranginui and Deidre Walker. It simply doesn’t get any better than that!
E te rangatira, ka nui te mihi me te aroha ki a koe, koutou atu ko ō mātua, tō hoa rangatira me tā kōrua whānau. Kei whea mai hoki!