Senior lecturer Dr Awanui Te Huia (Ngāti Maniapoto) from Te Kawa a Māui (School of Māori Studies) at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington has won a 2020 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award.

woman sitting with flax in background

Dr Te Huia’s award is one of nine given to academics from all over New Zealand this year, and one of five in the Kaupapa Māori category—the biggest cohort in this category since its establishment in 2010.“We are enormously proud of Awanui and her achievements in teaching. Her considered, evidence-based contributions to the te reo Māori teaching team and her belief in her students saw her become a very worthy nominee for this prestigious award, and reflects the strong student focus of our University,” says Provost, Professor Wendy Larner.

Through a strong underpinning of Kaupapa Māori methods, Dr Te Huia helps both Māori and Pākehā students navigate the wider cultural and societal implications of colonisation. Her teaching in both te reo Māori and mātauranga Māori is centred on fostering practical and interpersonal skills within her students.

Her award citation says she sensitively draws on her students’ lived experience to enhance the impact of her teaching, especially for students who are learning about their Māoritanga for the first time, inviting them to “regain control over areas of their academic, social and cultural lives to create a narrative that is aligned with their goals”.

One of her students notes, “I am one of many fortunate to have been taught, guided, and mentored, by this amazing teacher … I am honoured to have been asked to work with Awanui on postdoctoral research projects, where I was able to see her expertise and skills at an even deeper level.”

“I feel grateful for the support from students,” Dr Te Huia says. “I really appreciate their feedback. It is affirming to know that what we do in our teaching can make a difference to student’s experiences.”

The awards will be given out at a ceremony when circumstances allow.