Analiese Robertson, Professional Development Manager, ACE Aotearoa
Up to 150 Māori and Pasifika adult and community educators came together in Hokitika 26-27 Hui-tanguru (February), celebrating 13 years. Hui Fono continues to provide professional development to a workforce that has the least access and yet represents the highest proportion of a population underserved in education. Hui Fono 2020 was held in collaboration with the iwi of Ngāti Waewae at Arahura marae, supported by WestREAP.

The theme for Hui Fono 2020 was Te Tatau Pounamu, The Pounamu Door. The Doorway of Peace. The theme was gifted by mana whenua of Ngāti Waewae as an opportunity to learn the history of Te Wai Pounamu, and explore this metaphor in terms of our roles as educators and restorers of peace.

The theme embodied the values and fundamental nature of Māori and Pasifika knowledges, realities, and practices, especially when considered as an academic discipline in adult and community education.

The programme included a haerenga from Ōtautahi to Hokitika for early arrivals. Jamie Whittle, our local tour guide shared the history of Ngai Tahu, explained the significance of local landmarks and events, and their connection to people. At the same time he provided a context for the theme along the ponamu trail.

In my summary of the main sessions, I am including some comments made by participants.

Our opening keynote speaker, also from Ngāti Waewae, Horiana Tootell (Aunty Jo) presented an exhibition on the significance of pounamu, by location and ceremonial use. This included a journey to Mahinapua and Kaniere awa. For participants, having mana whenua curate the learning about the environment provided a model of place-based learning for educators.

“The things I adopt more of from this experience to my work is the importance of linking physical space with talanoa, it adds that extra feel to it to make you appreciate the whakaaro and mātauranga much more, and I believe haerenga is a perfect way to help get messages across.”

Another highlight and first for the hui fono was our Pasifika keynote speaker and learning exchange facilitaor, Steven Gwaliasi. Steve is an educator and now pounamu carver from the Solomon Islands, currently working with young people.

“From Steven’s story, it reminded me that you make do with what you have and he’s built a legacy in an unexpected place to find someone of Melanesian heritage on the West Coast. Steven’s practice encompasses his Pasifika way (humble and giving). Attributes that should be part of an educators practice. I loved hearing Steven and how he navigated a Māori kaupapa as a Pasifika person. His understanding of his relationships with mana whenua was obviously very special. I plan to put this into practice with our shared kaupapa both in our programme delivery at work and my work within the community.”

The ako: learning exchange sessions are designed to decolonise the learning space, using cultural practices. This year we did away with PowerPoint and got back to socialising through interactive activity.

“I was reminded that many of our arts and crafts on a deeper level serves many functions and purposes. Learning, development, communication, wellbeing, building relationships, shared learning.”

The interface of Māori and Pacific culture: The Pounamu and Kava door through lifelong learning, Edmond (Ed) Fehoko
The faikava is a well-known ceremonial cultural practice that in recent times has been adapted as an informal and recreational activity embedded in the activities of some churches and other agencies in New Zealand. This presentation explored how Edmond has used this social practice as a hub for informal and formal talanoa whilst building and transmitting cultural knowledge.

Edmond described his session: “My talanoa was the use of kava and how that is an effective tool for social and educational learning. The beautiful history of kava allows this to be an alternative tool and space to connect and share knowledge especially for our Pacific people. I was not only sharing my knowledge in my session but I was also listening to people’s stories around the kava bowl, their wins as well as the challenges they experience within their communities.”

Another ako: learning exchange involved a site visit to the local ACE provider in Hokitika, WestREAP. WestREAP highlighted their work in local communities across the Westland and Grey Districts (from Jackson Bay in the south, to Punakaiki in the north and east to Otira), how they connect learners to opportunities, filling gaps in education across early childhood education, schools and ACE.

“I learnt about the huge range of outreach and learning programmes WestREAP is delivering. I also loved how they are responding to community needs and delivering programmes over such a vast area. This is what my team is currently doing but just in the Christchurch area so it was great to pick their brains over their co-design process. And I will be adopting some of these methods into our process of delivery here.”

Mahi Toi
This ako: learning exchange session was led by the Hokitika tāua and their whānau. They shared the traditional practice of making tukutuku panel, the natural resources, preparation and process, weaving their histories and stories into the panels that will adorn Tuhuru, the wharenui of Arahura marae.

“What I loved most about this session was physically seeing intergenerational learning in its rawest forms, where the tuākanateina model was prevalent in the running of our kupenga session. I would love to share the learning and stories from this session to help widen the scope of many of my colleagues perceptions on what a tertiary student in 2020 looks like.”

Garlands of Love, Ei Katu
In the Cook Islands, the word ei (lei, hei), is derived from the art of making garlands, to create adornment head and neck pieces that signified homage, reverence and beauty. As much as it was a learning activity for everyone, it was a learning experience for the mama to reflect and refine their own generation’s pedagogy and adapting to working with today’s adult learner.

“I learnt how to be patient, don’t concentrate on the beautiful flowers but the greens to fill in the headpiece. This is likened to our spaces of work with community, don’t just focus on the ones that bloom so well, but bring out the best in others that don’t want to shine.”

Through the panel, we discussed the role of “influencers”, and “distruptors” and being challenged within the education system, restoring peace through lifelong learning. Panelists Teremoana Yala, Helen Lomax, Ali Leota, and Ivan Wharerimu Iraia, shared their perspectives on how they identify as “influencers” and/or “disruptors” in education and lifelong learning, giving examples of how they practise these roles.

“Listening to the panel discussion gave me more appreciation for the opportunities Hui Fono provides our people. The safe space and opportunity to listen, express, network and have conversations with each other which actively supports the education and healing of our people from colonialism and systems that have not been designed to suit our people. This helps me be more conscious of decisions and actions I take in my work and studies. Disruptors, Influencers we can be both.”

It is not just the registered participants who are learning. This year one of our A Team members commented it was the first time she sat in, finding herself engaged in conversation with colleagues working in early childhood education with families. She is considering a career pathway change.

ACE Aotearoa is proud to be the guardians of Hui Fono, tasked with mobilising and maintaining a safe space for Māori and Pacific in ACE.

Te reo Māori translations – for those of us that need it
haerenga - learning journey
pounamu - greenstone
awa - lakes
mana whenua - local people
whakaaro - thinking
mātauranga - knowledge
tāua - nannies