Prime Minister’s Awards recognise excellence in education

Issue: Volume 98, Number 17

Posted: 9 October 2019
Reference #: 1HA0HC

Innovative practices and partnerships with whānau and community to support learners to succeed were celebrated at the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.


Five winners at the recent Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards representing early learning services, kōhanga reo, schools and kura were picked by an independent judging panel from 20 finalists. They received their awards at a ceremony held at Parliament in September. 

The top prize of the night, the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award, went to Rotorua Boys’ High School. 

The school focuses on supporting students in the school’s hostel through expert guidance and whānau support. 

The school also won the Excellence in Leading Award. In her speech, Rotorua Boys’ High Leader of Learning Te Reo Māori, Rie Morris, said: “We have tried and worked hard to lead our young men in their pursuit of their dreams and aspirations, and to realise their potential, in keeping with our school motto Ad astra per aspera, Whaia te iti kahurangi – To the stars through hard work.”

Other finalists in the Excellence in Leading Award category were: Nayland College, Nelson; Waimairi School, Christchurch; Toitoi Manawa-Fairhaven School, Te Puke.

Winner – Te Kōhanga Reo ki Rotokawa: Excellence in Teaching and Learning 

The judges said: “This kōhanga’s focus on authentic assessment has broad application and impact outside the kōhanga. The alternative framework used is innovative and a significant contribution from whānau has resulted in a relevant assessment for Māori. “There is a clear framework which is strong and flexible.

“This entry demonstrates the use of whakapapa and whanaungatanga being used in a simple and practical way, and strong engagement with whānau. The innovation with the provision of professional development for whānau was noted,” commented the judges.

Other finalists in this category were: Winton Kindergarten, Southland; Rotorua Boys’ High School, Rotorua; Ōpoutere School, Coromandel.

Representatives from Te Kōhanga Reo ki Rotokawa, winner of the Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.

Winner – Tiaki Early Learning Centre: Excellence in Health and Wellbeing Education 

Tiaki Early Learning Centre set out to connect with its local community and its history and culture, so that children are able to access the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional benefits these connections offer. 

The centre re-examined its vision in consultation with whānau and local marae and made connections with local schools. They wanted their children to have a strong relationship with the land to enhance their health and wellbeing and that of Papatūānuku. They are moving towards zero waste and the provision of plant-based meals, supported through the development of vegetable gardens.

The centre, which values place-based education, initiated a Tangata Whenuatanga day in the community involving all the children, and a weekly visit to their marae.

Other finalists in this category were: Rotorua Boys’ High School, Rotorua; Te Kauwhata College, Te Kauwhata; Toitoi Manawa-Fairhaven School, Te Puke.

Winner – Holy Family School: Excellence in Engaging 

Whānau and family engagement and capacity building have been at the forefront for this school for the past four years. 

The multicultural school set about creating an education to fit the needs of all its students, and focused on transforming relationships between home and school. 

As a result the school’s roll has increased, educational outcomes for children have substantially improved, and positive connections with families have strengthened learning partnerships.

Other finalists in this category were: Halswell Residential College, Christchurch; Te Kōhanga Reo o Tarimano, Rotorua; Elstree Kindergarten, Rotorua.

Winner – Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae: 2019 Education Focus Prize – Excellence in Māori-medium Education.

The judges said: “The kura has made significant shifts in achievement and has developed strong connections with whānau. There is evidence that students are remaining at the kura for longer in the senior years and that there is a real focus on vocational aspirations for the students.

“This kura is building on robust conversations with whānau. It has initiated new approaches to teaching and learning and has shifted from an emphasis on subject learning to meeting the needs of their students.” 

Other finalists for the Focus Prize were: Te Kōhanga Reo ki Rotokawa, Rotorua; Te Kōhanga Reo o Tarimano, Rotorua; Manutuke School, Gisborne area.

Find out more about the winners and their stories by visiting 2019 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards(external link)

Focus on Māori potential achieves excellence

Passionate staff, strong whānau support and culturally responsive teaching and learning, won Rotorua Boys’ High School the Supreme Award in the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.

The school received a combined prize worth $69,000 which includes professional development opportunities, and they will represent New Zealand at an international education event. 

The judging panel said the school’s Tai Mitchell Hostel entry was impressive and showed a ‘thriving’ school, which was also chosen for the Excellence in Leading award.

The judges were impressed by the well-established boarding hostel. “A strong element of whānau involvement was shown with the hostel. The entry shows the students are thriving in this environment,” the judges said.

“Having teachers as housemasters is innovative, creating a learning and pastoral environment for the students’ holistic development.”

The school demonstrated that there have been significant shifts in the outcomes for these students and that the hostel provided 24-hour learning opportunities.

All boarders have achieved a 100 per cent pass rate in NCEA for five consecutive years. 

The school and Tai Mitchell Hostel set out to remove the disparity of educational achievement by focusing positively on Māori potential. 

Culturally responsive teaching

Students are supported through effective leadership and culturally responsive teaching and learning, and strong whānau involvement has provided increased educational opportunities for the students.

Principal Chris Grinter said winning the two awards was a great honour for the school. “This is a great way in which we as a school can celebrate the achievements of both our staff and students,” he said. 

“The awards allowed us to acknowledge key people in an important and successful programme and pay tribute to the time, effort and energy they have given to providing a hostel programme that supports not only the teaching and learning, but also provides a safe living environment for our 140 hostel boys.”

Wraparound support necessary

Director of Boarding Scott Mayhew said the awards were an affirmation they were on the right path for their young men. 

“It shows we have passionate people – passionate staff for the boys,” he said. “It shows that we are doing some really great stuff both inside and outside the classroom. They have the wraparound support that’s needed for them to be successful and they have really positive role models, especially in terms of leadership. 

“Our hostel is unique in terms of all of our staff apart from one are teachers. So we live with the kids and go to school with the kids. It’s a huge benefit for the boys. All our housemasters are house group teachers so we’re in constant contact and that’s very beneficial in terms of hostel life.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 1:30 pm, 9 October 2019

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