Seven Te Kura Taumata o Panguru teachers, including the school’s principal Mina Pomare-Peita, have completed their Master of Contemporary Education (MCE) together, through AcademyEX, a higher education institute with a focus on learning in areas of technological disruption, leadership, sustainability, and education.

The high achieving teaching team were the recipients of the Excellence in Engaging Award as part of the Prime Minister’s Excellence Awards in 2021, and Pomare-Peita says taking on a masters was the next logical step in their journey.

“I posed the question to [my teachers] ‘would you guys like to improve your teaching and learning using 21st century skills?’,” she says.

“So that was the other attractiongoing to AcademyEX, was just a natural step to continue on that pathway.”

Pomare-Peita is no stranger to further study.

The tumuaki completed her first master’s degree 27 years ago, but decided to take on another to support her staff in the endeavour of juggling fulltime work with study.

“I said that I would do it with them to help facilitate the teachers and to help keep to the time frame, really,” she says.

Pomare-Peita established a ‘week A’ when teachers would engage with their classes and tutor groups, and a week B when they would meet as a group, discuss key themes, go over assignments and work collaboratively.

“We would stay after school and do that, because we work full-time as well. 

“So it was at times stressful, particularly when we had assessments due,” Pomare-Peita admits. 

“But we believe you have to burn the midnight oil sometimes.

“You’ve got to put the work in. It was a masters, it wasn’t a bachelors degree, so we needed to rise to the challenge of that.”

Matua Bodean Peita and Whaea Mina Pomare-Peita proud graduates of the Master of Contemporary Education. 

After completing their studies, the team of teachers have been quick to put their learning into practice, particularly their new collaboration and leadership skills.

“I’ve been in teaching for three decades, and I can tell you it doesn’t come natural to many teachers to collaborate, to be fair,” Pomare-Peita admits.

“And that's because we have basically been in a system where it's an individual pathway of attaining success.”

Collaboration, she says, is a learned skill, which requires teachers to set aside their competitive nature.

“You need to be quite self-reflective and self-regulating.

“So we’ve implemented that in our normal professional development or learning as teachers.

“The other thing that we have put in is understandings of all the different types of leadership.

“The readings from AcademyEX were so important, we talk about them all the time.”

Pomare-Peita says she and her team thoroughly enjoyed their study experience and the support offered by AcademyEX.

“I loved the extra mile that they went,” she explains

“They ensured that we had Māori-speaking lecturers and tutors to help us, and they were just always available to us.”

All of the teachers were recipients of the Māori Scholarship, with one teacher a recipient of the over-60 scholarship.

Pomare-Peita says she was driven to take on a second masters degree by her love of learning.

“I’m really passionate about learning, every day I'm learning something and I'm grounded by that.

“That keeps me grounded telling my students and my adult community that ‘no, I’m a forever a learner’,” she says.