Ngaputiputi Akapita has been named the winner of the inaugural Dame Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira Award. Graduating as the top student in Massey University’s kaupapa Māori immersion initial teacher education programme – Te Aho Tātairangi. Ms Akapita
A key figure at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Ruanui in Hawera she was also a recipient of a Ngati Ruanui education grant.
Among the first 11 students to complete the Bachelor of Teaching Māori Medium, Diploma Māori Education, the unique distance study programme is taught completely in te reo and teams students with kura hāpai where they can get practical experience, encouragement and support.
Academic Coordinator Mari Ropata-Te-Hei says the award not only recognises Ngaputi’s academic achievement but also her embodiment of the principles of Te Aho Matua. “We not only have 11 more Māori teachers, we have skilled individuals who are passionate about being part of the whole revitalisation of te reo and kanga Māori and also to uphold Te Aho Matua.”
Ms Akapita received her award from Dame Kātirina’s daughters to thunderous applause, haka and waiata.
She says the distance study aspect of the programme was crucial for her. “I got to stay home with my whanau and study at the same time. Also to be in your own community and be able to experience different kura was really a big experience”.