Ahorangi Tuarua Mera Penehira
Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching – Kaupapa Māori category
Associate Professor – School of Indigenous Graduate Studies, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi
“To embody the notion of ako is to also understand that I am both an educator and a learner every time I engage with students.”
I āta kite te rōpū whiriwhiri i te rangatira o ngā mahi a Ahorangi Tuarua Mera Penehira nā tōna kaha ki te whakaū i ngā ariā o te ao Māori ki roto i ngā akoranga o āna ākonga. Ehara i te mea hei tūāpapa noa ngā kaupapa Māori i roto i āna mahi whakaako, heoi, kua whakawhanakehia e ia ngā rautaki me ngā ara mahi e hāpai ana i te whakatinanatanga o aua kaupapa i roto i te ao tūturu. Waihoki, nā ērā mahi āna, e āhei ana ngā ākonga ki te kawe i ngā tikanga a te ao Māori hei painga mō rātou anō, otirā, hei ārahi i a rātou i roto i ā rātou mahi ako, e eke ai rātou ki te taumata.
Kua taunakitia e ngā ākonga, rātou ko ōna hoamahi, tōna māia ki te hāpai i ngā kaupapa o te ao Māori i roto i āna mahi whakaako. Hei tā te nuinga, ko te tāhuhu o āna mahi, ko tōna whakapono nui e taea ai e te Māori ngā taumata tiketike o te kura tuatoru te eke, ahakoa he mea tauhou ngā whakahaere o aua whare ki ētahi. Tae noa ki tēnei wā, ko te whakahoutanga o ngā tikanga whakaako mā roto i ngā tikanga o te Ako me ngā kaupapa Māori, tana whāinga nui i te ao mātauranga. Engari, kaua hei ariā, hei kaupapa rangahau noa iho rānei, engari hei whakapātaritari kē i ngā tikanga whakahaere o te wā, hei huarahi anō e eke ai te Māori ki ngā keokeonga o ngā taumata mātauranga.
As a Kaupapa Māori teacher, Associate Professor Mera Penehira engages in critical, cross-disciplinary, cross-nation and multi-generational research, teaching and learning. This requires humility, confidence, and above all an openness to learning new things. Mera’s dedication to her students and commitment to enriching their learning experience through the application of a Kaupapa Māori pedagogy is impressive. “I am moved by the compassion she shows for every student while advancing the legitimacy of indigenous scholarship” writes one of her students.
She has developed a range of strategies and approaches to ensure that Kaupapa Māori principles are applied in pragmatic and tangible ways. A colleague commented, “Mera brought a level of academic rigour to the programme that really lifted the quality and challenged students to reach their potential.” Reframing pedagogy through the application of Ako and Kaupapa Māori has driven her academic journey, to challenge existing conventions and maximise Māori educational success.