Matua Conrad Waitoa, Founder & Principal Facilitator with Year 7s students Photograph Warren Buckland Hawke's Bay Today
Producing Rangatira for the future
through an innovative educational organisation using a kaupapa Māori approach to release the
potential of Māori learners and their whānau
Founder of Inspire in Education Conrad Waitoa was humbled to learn he had been nominated for Hawke's Bay Person of the Year
By: Anneke Smith, Anneke Smith is a reporter for Hawke's Bay Today
It doesn't pay well and the hours are long, but for Conrad Waitoa leading Inspire In Education is the best job he's ever had.
The pilot programme, purposed to develop the potential of Maori learners, was established in March this year after Mr Waitoa realised the number of students, particularly boys, not achieving national standards. "This has been the best job I've ever had, the least paid with the longest hours, but the biggest heartfelt job. I've not woken up without a smile on my face knowing that it's going to be a cool day ahead connecting with students or families."
He was "humbled" to learn he had been nominated for Hawke's Bay Today Person of the Year, he said. "For me it's very humbling and appreciated. There's a lot of people out there doing wonderful things and you don't do it to gain recognition, you do it to help others." Mr Waitoa, a husband and father of two, left a corporate career of 30 years to start Inspire In Education this year and said the results had been emotional.
"The most rewarding part was when the students I've had that are transitioning to high school have all said to me that they're all coming back to help me and be the leaders for other students. "That was the greatest thing. I actually cried when I got to my car because it meant the whole year meant more to them than just being in the programme."
Introduced at Havelock North Intermediate, where Mr Waitoa is chairman of the board of trustees, the initiative uses a kaupapa Māori approach in identifying students' strengths, weaknesses and career and education goals. Havelock North Intermediate deputy principal Liz Vanderpump, one of several people who nominated Mr Waitoa, said he was someone who had made a huge difference in the school.
"What he's actually done this year is give up his full-time work, he was involved in the corporate world, and from what we could tell a pretty high-paying job. He was inspired to set that aside so that he could work with the kids in our community.
"I think that's a really selfless act and by doing what he's done he's made some pretty strong connections with some kids, made a huge difference in their lives and essentially been a leader for our community." Mr Waitoa said since starting up the programme his work had taken him in many different directions and he had become, what he described, a "connector".
"I like to connect with people and I'm not afraid to ask for help and a favour. For me it's about helping some of our younger children, especially some of our Maori students in education.
"I knew that others were experiencing the same things that I experienced when I was at school. I thought it was a time for me to give back."
Mr Waitoa said funding the programme was a challenge but he was hopeful that in time the programme would grow and rally support.
"I'm self-funded at the moment but I know in time that funding will come along and I can then grow the programme further around Hawke's Bay. It's come a long way.
"I guess for me I won't make a million dollars, but I feel like I've made a million dollars if that makes any sense."
"Ko Heretaunga Haukunui, Ararau, Haaro te Kaahu, Takoto Noa Heretaunga"
Heretaunga of life-giving dew, of a hundred pathways, the beauty of which can only be seen through the eyes of the hawk, left to us, the humble servants.
“Ko Heretaunga Haukunui, Ararau, Haaro te Kaahu, Takoto Noa” is a centuries old tribal whakataukī (proverb) that is central to the kaupapa of Inspire in Education. It has many layers from which to identify and describe the tāngata whenua (people of the land), acknowledging Maori and their spiritual connection and birthplace of Heretaunga, the environment, and their relationship to each other, and as such is the framework for Inspire in Education Charitable Trusts kaupapa.
Logo Design Team
Our Inspire In Education logo, was proudly designed by rima (5) gifted Māori akonga (students) from Havelock North Intermediate School in Hawkes Bay, Aotearoa. Our superstars are pictured below, to matua Conrad Waitoa right are, Sophie (Year 7), Tyler, Jason, Tiaho, Dayton all in Year 8.
Founder, matua Conrad Waitoa, wanted the rangatahi to create and to be part of the design process. After a korero explaining the kaupapa of Inspire In Education, the students were set the task of creating and then presenting their idea to the rōpū (group). With the guidance and support from Jamie Twigg and his experienced team at 543 Design, based in Napier, Hawkes Bay, we were able to take the best of the free hand, computer generated logo designs and narrow down to 3 possible. Before finalising, we seeked advise from our kaumatua's matua Tom Mulligan, Papa, Togi Waitoa and Nanny Mary Waitoa
The Koru represents Inspire In Educations growth and new beginnings and sit behind the Taonga.
The Taonga represents the akonga (students) and whānau (family). This represent the fostering and support of strong relationships and well-being.