Serenah Nicholson: 2020 Award for Member of the year Tangata Whenua

The 2020 ACE Aotearoa Annual Award for Member of the year Tangata Whenua has been awarded to Serenah Nicholson.

Serenah has shown great commitment to the ACE sector over many years. She epitomises whanau learning in her work, relationships and standing in the community. With Serenah, there are no prescribed or predetermined programmes. Her innate ability to see teachable moments everywhere has been reflected in decades of services to ACE.

Serenah’s contribution is recognised in the disciplines of adult literacy, financial capability, social development and iwi Māori. She has been a longtime supporter and advisor in lifting capability and educational outcomes for Māori and Pasifika in community education. She has provided input through provider experiences that helped inform the ACE professional tools such as the ACE Learner Outcomes Tool, Teaching Standards, Learner Pathways, and Quality Assurance.

She has been an advocate for lifelong learning, coordinating activities during national events such as He Tangata Matauranga – Adult Learners’ Week, International Literacy Day, and local awards to celebrate educators and learners. Serenah has also been a governance member and Chair of Te Koruru, the governance body for Literacy Aotearoa, a regular attendee and active participant at the ACE Hui Fono and ACE Conference, and ACE professional development workshops where she demonstrates her commitment to lifelong learning.

Through her organisation and as Manager of The Learning Centre, Whānau Family Support Services Trust, she has worked tirelessly in her Lower Hutt community providing literacy, numeracy, budgeting, and parenting services. One of her greatest skills has been in needs analysis – seeing a learning gap and finding a way to fill it. She set up a support group for grandparents caring for children whose parents were affected by methamphetamine using education as the vehicle to help deal with the situation family members were facing. More recently, it was not surprising to see Serenah out in the community delivering food to families affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, and always with an element of education embedded to ensure whanau were taking lessons from being home and continuing their learning contextualised in the “bubble” classroom.