Dr Rhys Jones

Prime Minister’s Supreme Award Winner 2020

Also award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching.

Senior Lecturer, Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, The University of Auckland 

He kaiwhakapūmau a Dr Rhys Jones o te hiranga o te mahi whakaako. Ka tuituia e ia ngā tikanga o te ao Māori, o ngā anga Kaupapa Māori, o ngā mōtika tangata o ngā Iwi Taketake me te ao hauora. He rata Māori ia nō te rāngai hauora tūmatanui, he Pūkenga Māori hoki nō te whare o Te Kupenga Hauora Māori. Nā te hiranga o āna mahi whakaako, ka kitea te māia, ka puāwai mai, ka tū rangatira hoki te tangata.

Kei te kōkiri ia i ngā take Māori me ngā take o ngā Iwi Taketake e pā ana ki te mātauranga pūtaiao o te ao hauora ki Aotearoa me te ao. Me ngākau atawhai, me mātau hoki te kaiwhakaako ki ngā take e hāpai ana i te noho taurite-kore o ētahi i te ao hauora, hei tā Tākuta Jones, “Ka wehi ētahi akonga i ēnā kōrero; me āta wetewete ngā ‘kōrero pono’ o mua mō te hītori o Aotearoa, mō te papori me ngā kaupapa pērā i te mahi tāmi, i te kaikiri me te noho whairawa”.

Hei tā Rhys he “kaikōkiri” rātou ko āna akonga, ka kī ake ia, “he ara roa, he ara kōpikopiko hoki te ara kia “turakina” ngā pōhēhē o mua…”; nā, kei te whāngaihia ngā akonga ki ngā kai tōtika hei whakawhanake i ō rātou pūkenga arohaehae whakaaro.

Kei te whakamihia te kounga o ngā mahi whakaako a Tākuta Jones e tēnei akonga, “Tūturu, he tino tohunga a Rhys ki te āta wetewete, ki te āta tahuri hoki i ngā whakaaro kaikiri o te akonga. Kei te rangona ōna pūkenga me tōna ngākau atawhai – ahakoa te tokomaha o ngā kaiwhakarongo, mai i te whare ako nunui ki te āhurutanga o tētahi akomanga o ngā akonga paetahi –  ka āta whakatakotohia e ia tana kaupapa i runga i te aroha me te wairua manaaki”.

"We need to go beyond the concept of transformative learning within a Kaupapa Māori framework, and seek to transform educational curricula, educational institutions and society in which they are embedded."

Dr Rhys Jones is an outstanding champion of teaching and learning who weaves together values from te Ao Māori, Kaupapa Māori frameworks, Indigenous Peoples' human rights and medicine. A Māori public health physician as well as Senior Lecturer in the Te Kupenga Hauora Māori unit, Rhys’ teaching excellence is courageous, transformative, and emancipatory.  

He is at the forefront of Māori and Indigenous advocacy in medical health science in both Aotearoa New Zealand and on the world stage. Medical health inequalities require care and depth in teaching and learning, as Dr Jones shares, “Many students find this confronting; it involves questioning of accepted ‘truths’ about New Zealand history and society, and engagement with concepts such as colonisation, racism and privilege”.  

Rhys considers himself and his students as “agents of change” and refers to the need for “lifelong transformative processes to ‘unlearn’ bias …”; thereby providing the students with the tools for developing critical consciousness. 

Appreciation of Dr Jones as a teacher of distinction is articulated by this student, “Rhys’ skilful and soulful capacity to hold a room of any size, from a lecture theatre to a cosy postgraduate classroom, while thoroughly – yet, respectfully and even kindly – deconstructing and re-educating a student’s racist thinking is truly phenomenal”.  

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Dr Rhys Jones – Recipient of a 2020 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award