A reflection on the pōwhiri at Wesley College to mark the start of the Summer Initial Intensive for the newest and largest cohort on the Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu Programme.
Each November our new cohort begins their two years on the Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu Programme with a buzz. It's the kind of buzz you get when you start something new, something that you’re excited about, that you care about and are committed to, and that you are ready for.
Gathered at Wesley College on the windy yet sunny afternoon last Sunday, our 44 new participants arrived with their families and friends to begin their journey as ‘Cohort 2018’. Cohort 2018 is made up of an array of English, Maths, Science, Te Reo Māori and Digital Technology teachers-to-be. This cohort marks the largest cohort for Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu to date.
We were led onto the Wesley College Marae by Herena Te Wano (Cohort 2018) and Nyra Marshall (Cohort 2015) and were welcomed with warmth and passion by a Wesley College pōwhiri, including leadership from students from the school.
Two hundred of us removed our shoes together and moved into the marae where we sang and listened to the acknowledgments and welcomes that flitted from the Wesley side of the room to ours. We were joined by Wesley College students, teachers, The Mind Lab by Unitec, and the family and friends of Teach First NZ. It was tightly packed, but it felt good to be in this space together, with an anticipation brewing.
From the marae, we moved to the whare kai where we shared an afternoon tea and then began the ‘handing over’. This was a chance for family and friends to send their child, partner, spouse, sibling, friend, or flatmate over to Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu to embrace the two years ahead.
The support of the friends and family was beautiful to witness, and as each member was acknowledged you could feel a growing sense of community across the room.
As I sat among this new whānau, hearing the voices of loved ones sending off their champions into this two year long programme, I felt excitement and wonder. Excitement about what these people might bring to the schools they teach in, and the students they will soon be walking alongside. Wonder about what the future of education in Aotearoa might look like in 10 years’ time.
Our vision at Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu is that all young people in our country fulfil their potential, and it is exciting that this new group of 45 will now contribute to making that vision a reality.
Too see the full album from the pōwhiri for Cohort 2018, click here.