Conference Keynote Speakers

Hon Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins is Member of Parliament for Rimutaka. He is the Leader of the House and Minister of Education and State Services. He is also the Minister responsible for Ministerial Services.

Chris passionately believes that every New Zealander deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential in life. He is a staunch advocate for and defender of our public education system and believes that a free, quality education is the right of every child.

Chris has worked in the industry training sector and before becoming an MP was senior advisor to two Education Ministers, later working in the office of the then Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Chris entered Parliament in 2008 and became the Spokesperson for Education at the beginning of 2013.

Shirley Walters

Shirley is a passionate activist-scholar who has worked with social justice oriented civil society organizations for over thirty-five years both locally and globally. She is emerita professor of Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Western Cape, South Africa and was Director of the Traditions of Popular Education project.

Shirley was the founding Director of the Centre for Adult and Continuing Education and the Division for Lifelong Learning (2000–2014) and served as Chair of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) from 2004 –2010. She has served on the South African Ministerial Transformation Oversight Committee for Public Higher Education and in 2004 was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

Shirley is currently Vice President for Africa on the Executive of the International Council for Adult Education. Her recent paper ‘The drought is my teacher’: Adult learning and education in times of climate crisis, explores how adult learning can and should respond in a time of dramatic climate change.

Jason Tiatia

Our conference MC, Jason Tiatia is a proud Samoan Kiwi who grew up in Christchurch East. He is a member of the Senior Academic Staff at Ara Institute of Canterbury.

Through education, coaching, nurture and encouragement, especially with Pasifika students and communities, Jason works to empower people to enhance their potential. He is also a Flo Talanoa facilitator working with communities so that they will take ownership and leadership of community action plans for suicide prevention.

As a former international rugby player, rugby sevens specialist and coach, Jason incorporates many of the skills he acquired as an athlete into his work. He is passionate about teaching Samoan language and culture, training, coaching sport and raising his three young Samoan and Māori children.