My thanks to the New Zealand Principals' Federation for their recent Service with Distinction Award, awarded to a member "who has made an outstanding contribution to the teaching profession or education as a Principal," which I was presented with in Wellington on 2 July.
In my thanks and acceptance of this Award I said:
It’s a sort of ‘out of body’ experience hearing someone else talk about you. I think we all just get on with doing the work every day in our schools - and we don’t stop to add it up or put it in one place. I remember being genuinely surprised a few years ago – and a bit flattered I admit - when I was introduced to an audience as an “education activist”! I thought, Who, me?
I have always seen myself as a mother, grandmother and great grandmother of Maori children who typically, our education system fails, and any service I have given anywhere has always been fuelled by my outrage about this situation. These days I have much less patience about this than I used to, so “activist” now is probably quite mild and I’m certain there are some people I’ve rubbed up the wrong way, in places like the Ministry or ERO, who have other, less flattering descriptors!
The truth is, that when you make an intentional decision to stick your neck out and challenge our system and, in my case, our own Pakeha comfort zones, particularly in an area as controversial as Maori education, then you understand that’s going to be an isolating and lonely experience – it just goes with the territory. That’s why this Award is such a special honour! To receive this acknowledgement from your colleagues means a very great deal and I truly appreciate it.
None of us go into this role to give service to each other, or to education in general, maybe that’s unfortunate! We teach, we learn, we struggle, sometimes we lead, and we do the best we can in the schools and communities who welcome us into their midst, and everything else is a bonus I think. I’m most proud of the service I’ve been privileged to be able to offer to the students and whanau of Kia Aroha College and of the support and amazing learning I’ve received in return.
This Award honours our whole community and the journey we have taken together over the last three decades to make a difference for our Maori and Pasifika kids. So… I thank you, my whanau – three of my daughters have travelled to be here today - thanks you, Kia Aroha College’s warrior-scholars, our staff, board and community all thank you.
Kia ora tatou.