Collaboration key to supporting young parents

Issue: Volume 95, Number 20

Posted: 7 November 2016
Reference #: 1H9d5L

The 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards are now open. Education Gazette profiles recent winners – why they decided to enter, their journey before and after the awards and what comes next for them.

It is all about collaboration for a Kaiapoi-based young parent’s college and early learning centre that won a Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Award at the awards ceremony this year.

The Award judges noted the powerful collaboration amongst all involved in the college, how it builds self-worth and wellbeing in students, and re-engages young parents in education.
This saw Karanga Mai named winners of the 2016 Education Focus Prize – Takatū Prize.

The Education Focus Prize, which has a changing theme each year, in 2016 focused on collaboration along the whole education pathway to improve health, wellbeing, and learning success for every child and young person.

Karanga Mai first opened in 1992. Director Rachel Hawthorne says winning the Education Focus Prize at the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Award was an incredibly proud moment for the centre.

“A small number of us attended the ceremony in Auckland, but it felt like we had our whole community with us,” she says. “What made it special was that we took three students with us. They were super proud to be there to represent the other students.”

Students at Karanga Mai have a range of different backgrounds, Rachel says.

“We have a whole range of students,” she says. “Some disengaged from education very young and they didn’t have success or get any confidence."

“Quite a few of our students had left education before getting pregnant. They might have had other barriers that got in the way."

“We also have students who have experienced success at school. Some of our students are achieving Level Three NCEA and looking at tertiary study.”

Half of the students live in a supportive environment with other family members or partners, while the other half live independently.

Rachel says Karanga Mai staff aim to acknowledge the abilities of their students.

“We want to enable their capability to make positive choices, take responsibility for things, build confidence through opportunities and be aspirational for their future goals."

The centre’s early learning head teacher, Jacinta McInerney, says winning the award was very exciting for the centre, its students and wider community.

“There is a great sense of pride felt,” she says.

“It has been uplifting and validating to have the collaboration between the Early Learning Centre and Young Parents’ College recognised as significant in supporting educational success for both generations of learners,” she says.

“Our community will stay focused through our ability to remain visionary, to challenge stereotypes and expectations and to support and empower each other through the strength of our collaboration,” Jacinta says.

Jacinta says Karanga Mai is on a course of continuous improvement and is already thinking about what is next.

One upcoming project includes young local artists and weavers, Corabelle and Lisa Summerton, leading the centre in a community rāranga project.

This will include the creation of a whāriki that depicts Karanga Mai and its whakapapa, vision and values.

Deirdre Ryan, manager of Community Wellbeing North Canterbury and a member of the early learning centre’s governance group, says the centre’s teachers are fantastic role models.

“They demonstrate a commitment to ongoing learning in order to be responsive to the special characteristics of the community and to honouring their responsibilities as teachers and partners to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

Kaiapoi High School shares a site with Karanga Mai and principal Bruce Kearney says collaboration has been central to innovation at all levels of the centre.

“The partnership through governance and management between Community Wellbeing North Canterbury, who operate the early learning centre, and Kaiapoi High School, who govern the young parents’ college, is evidence of this."

“We continue to embrace opportunities for whanaungatanga within our whānau and wider community with the belief that these connections support both generations of learners in reaching their full potential.”

The young parents’ college at Karanga Mai offers young parents the opportunity to study and gain qualifications at secondary and tertiary level. Students also learn life skills to support themselves and their children.

Entries close at 4pm, Friday 17 March 2017

Visit the Prime Minister's Awards website(external link) to get your entry underway today.

Need help with your entry? Talk with one of our team.

Email us at or call 0800 PM AWARDS (0800 762 927).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 1:57 pm, 7 November 2016

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts