Kaupapa Māori excellence recognised across Te Pūkenga 


Kaupapa Māori excellence recognised across Te Pūkenga 

November 3, 2022 | 3 min read

Rachel Dibble, Senior Lecturer in Social Services at Otago Polytechnic, and Jamie Smiler,  Kaiwhakahaere Rangahau at Whitireia and WelTec, each won the Kaupapa Māori Award.

The pair are among nine academics (comprising two Te Pūkenga kaimahi and seven university kaimahi) recognised at Te Whatu Kairangi - Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Educator Awards, one of the most prestigious teaching awards in New Zealand.  

One of these awardees will be named the Prime Minister's Educator of the Year at an online ceremony on 23 November.

Mark Oldershaw, Whitireia and WelTec Manahautū Executive Director, believes that through Jamie's leadership in this area, educators can embed change within our institutions.

"Jamie's commitment to kaupapa Māori, and his personal philosophy of 'one ākonga at a time', demonstrates kaupapa Māori-informed teaching excellence.

"This is an incredibly significant milestone and recognises Jamie's leadership in incorporating Māori values and principles within our institutions and wider communities."

As kaiako (tutor) and leader, Jamie strongly believes that incorporating kaupapa Māori-informed teaching practice provides a more inclusive learning environment for all ākonga and in the end supports the transforming aspirations of whānau, hapū and iwi.

I'm incredibly honoured that this award acknowledges the value of a Kaupapa Māori approach in helping our ākonga succeed," he says.

Jamie uses "real-life, real-time Te Tiriti issues" to inform his teaching practices and provide a window into the real world for ākonga.

A Senior Lecturer within Otago Polytechnic’s Social Services programme, Rachel Dibble (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Ruahine) places great emphasis on creating a learning environment in which people experience real connections to place and space.

"As an educator, I strive to facilitate authentic learning experiences that come from recognition of mana whenua space – and are founded on the provisions of Te Tiriti o Waitangi," she explains.

"Experiencing whakawhānaukataka in a learning environment is one way to tautoko (support) the mana of the tauira in the room. It is all about building relationships."

Her approach includes facilitating education through multimedia, incorporating Māori voices such as heavy rock band Alien Weaponry, and the slam poetry group Ngā Hine Pūkōrero.

Otago Polytechnic Executive Director Dr Megan Gibbons says the award reflects a strong culture of excellence at the institution. 

"I'm delighted Rachel has been acknowledged with such a prestigious award," says Dr Gibbons (herself a recipient of an Ako Aotearoa Award in 2016). 

Te Pūkenga is proud to acknowledge the success of two such well respected academics within its network.