School News, NZ - Term 4, 2020

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INTERVIEW

Five minutes with

Dr Hana O’Regan (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha) By Anna Wallace

Hana O’Regan’s passion for education and community, history and equity, is evident when we interview her as CORE Education’s new Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive Officer. What’s been your initial impression of CORE Education? It’s incredibly exciting to be back in education. The enthusiasm and commitment of this big and beautifully diverse whānau is incredible. One of the things I love about this sector and this organisation is that people have views, people are invested in the kaupapa | vision to achieve equity for all our tamariki. I’ve watched what CORE has done in the past and I’m familiar with its impact. The commitment to innovation, growth and equity has been there for a long time; the currents might have changed but the momentum has never stopped. I feel privileged to join this team and bring what I can to it. Why are you and CORE a good fit? Since my mid-twenties I’ve been working to raise awareness of Māori achievement and Māori within our education system as I saw inequities in the way that Māori were engaged; systemic bias and institutional racism that the history had created.

Dr Hana O’Regan, CORE Education’s new Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive Officer

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Initially, I tried to help people understand our history – the Treaty – what happened in contrast with what people thought had happened. The absence of that story meant that people, including educators, developed strong preconceptions about Māori learning and ability. I tried to raise awareness about where those inequities lie and to do something about them. I

EDUCATION

spoke to judges, social workers, corporates – anyone I thought had influence. After the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 though, I had to prioritise my family and what I did so I decided to only speak to educators as I felt that’s where I could have the biggest influence. Teachers then said they needed their leaders behind it, so I went to a lot of principals’ conferences! But after 10, then 15 years, it felt that things weren’t shifting at anywhere near the speed they needed to. I believe that educators have a huge influence on a child’s self-belief, and I don’t think we do enough to support teachers to be able to respond to the weight of that influence. CORE does that. What attracted me to CORE is that we have made an evidencecommitment to build teachers’ capability, working to come up with solutions to their challenges. We take a learning-centred approach to address not just negative issues, but to realise potential for a thriving Aotearoa. I wanted to be in a place where I thought I could be working with people to make the change, not just talk about it. Why is CORE’s work so important right now? I got emotional last year when the government announced that New Zealand history would be taught as part of the curriculum. I was driving home, and I had to pull the car over because I was crying! I thought finally as a country we are going to have the conversations that might shift thinking. In my previous role at Ngāi Tahu we looked at a range of factors that impact Māori achievement and life outcomes such as employability, financial sustainability and the role education has on that. At the same time, we were dealing with the historical effects of educational challenges, like the predominance of Māori and Pasifika in illiteracy statistics and Term 4, 2020 | schoolnews.co.nz