Introducing our new Board Chair, Dr. Jim Mather!
Apr 09, 2020 - Voices
Jim reflects on his own education in South Auckland, his motivations for joining the Ako Mātātupu waka and takes a moment to acknowledge and thank both past and present members of the Ako Mātātupu Board. Welcome to the whānau, Matua Jim!
As a lifelong learner, I am humbled to be appointed Chair of Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ and to be able to contribute to the elimination of inequities in our education system.
Having grown up in the humble, but proud, communities of Te Teko, Ōtara and Māngere, I have experienced, first-hand, many of the challenges the young people that Ako Mātātupu has been set up to support face. After completing my secondary education at Māngere College, I can recall having limited opportunities and certainly going on to tertiary education was not one of them. As an 18 year old, I enlisted in the New Zealand Army and spent the next six years learning about leadership at different levels and eventually becoming a Troop Commander before leaving the military to embark on a business career. I have never actually attended university full-time and went on to eventually complete an accountancy degree, MBA and PhD whilst continuing to work full-time.
In my experience, it only takes a few outstanding teachers to set you on the right path and I still remember Miss Bradstreet and Mr Nixon from my time at Bairds Intermediate in Ōtara, and later Miss Erickson at Māngere College. They were all excellent teachers in under-resourced, low decile schools who made a huge difference in the lives of the many students they taught. In essence, they were the unknowing pioneers of the Teach First NZ Programme.
Ultimately, Ako Mātātupu is a social justice organisation and that is what has motivated me to join their whānau and contribute to the vision of providing opportunities for all young New Zealanders to reach their full potential. The whakataukī of Ako Mātātupu encapsulates perfectly our purpose:
ko te piko o te māhuri, tērā te tupu o te rākau
- the way the sapling is shaped determines how the tree grows
As the new Chair, it is also vitally important that I recognise those trustees who have gone before me and those who continue to be instrumental in the development of Ako Mātātupu. I sincerely acknowledge my predecessor as Board Chair, Bernardine Vester, alongside my fellow trustees for their on-going passion for the kaupapa of Ako Mātātupu, as well as Chief Executive, Jay Allnutt and our inspirational kaimahi.
I also wish to thank our key stakeholders and many supporters, without whom it would not be possible to deliver the positive changes required in our secondary education system. To the Ministry of Education and the range of trusts and foundations that continue to share our vision of all young people having equal educational opportunities to fulfil their potential, your on-going support remains vital to our collective success.
Finally, it is my great hope that Ako Mātātupu continues going from strength-to-strength and maximises all opportunities to provide young people with outstanding educational opportunities. As someone who has personally benefitted from having had exposure to awesome teachers, I am passionate about other young kids from challenged communities also having those same opportunities and in the process exceeding all expectations that may have been placed upon them.
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