The Festival of Adult Learning Ahurei Ākonga (formerly Adult Learners' Week/He Tangata Mātauranga) is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) initiative supported by the Tertiary Education Commission, adult and community education providers at a local level and the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO. The Week also incorporates International Literacy Day on September 8 each year.

It was established in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1998 with the goal of raising the profile of adult learning. It is an opportunity to celebrate the successes and achievements of everyone participating in Adult and Community Education (ACE). It has also become a vehicle for encouraging anyone in the wider community with needs or desires that can be met through learning to consider adult education, whether it be learning to adjust to life in a new country, re-training to find employment, adjusting to life after prison, acquiring parenting skills or just getting out and doing an activity to make life better and meet people.

In Aotearoa New Zealand there are thousands of opportunities to take part in adult learning which doesn't necessarily take place in classrooms, require enrolment, assignments or assessments. Each year around half a million adult New Zealanders participate in learning programmes.

Throughout the week event coordinators will be organising programmes of events in their communities to celebrate adult learning and highlight its benefits.


Adult learning can take place at many different places and levels of the community. The Festival of Adult Learning Ahurei Ākonga recognises that from teaching English to an immigrant in a private home, attending a programme at the local library, or being part of a community support group, through to attending a private training organisation or earning a university degree, all adult learning achievements are worth celebrating. Many stories are inspirational and in being told, encourage people who thought learning was not for them that there are endless possibilities.

The Aims of the Festival of Adult Learning Ahurei Ākonga are:

  • To celebrate the efforts, achievements and contributions of adult learners, educators and providers at both regional and national events
  • To strengthen adult and community education and raise public awareness of the rich variety of learning opportunities for adults
  • To widen access to learning opportunities and encourage more people to seek advice and guidance about returning to learn
  • To foster collaborative and cooperative networks and pathways among those who share an interest in adult learning