I grew up in a tiny, coastal, Māori community in New Zealand where my family was one of the very few Pākehā (White) families in the district, and at the one-teacher rural school.
With hindsight, I realised that my family had status in that community that we didn’t understand. At Māori community celebrations and events we were treated as honoured guests, but I never questioned this or thought about why. I absorbed the richness of a Māori community from a position of unearned privilege.
At the age of 16, I left the security of home and the beach, to be thrown into the world of study and teacher training in Auckland, and where again, no one ever challenged me to think about inequity or injustice. That conscientisation did not happen for another two decades, when my own children, who identify as Māori through their father’s heritage, began secondary school.
I am honoured to have been inextricably linked to the counter story of Kia Aroha College for the last 33 years, on a professional level as a teacher and principal, a writer, speaker, and researcher, as well as on a personal level as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother of Māori children, whose own experiences in our education system opened my eyes, and forever changed my own teaching practice and the lens I looked through. My education and research career has been committed to challenging and changing the educational inequity our system designs and perpetuates.
I am enormously proud of the achievements of Kia Aroha College. After 22 years in the principal’s role I felt it was time to move on, to pass on the experience and the knowledge I have been given in this journey, to support other educators, school leaders, and communities in their similar pathways. In New Zealand my work is with Māori and Pasifika children and communities and I would love to engage with anyone who wants to make real change for Indigenous and minoritised learners in your classes and schools.