Rauhina Cooper, who teaches te reo matatini and te reo Māori in Hamilton was named winner of a prestigious national award that recognises contemporary teaching practice in New Zealand.

Rauhina is 2019’s NEXT Foundation’s Expert Teacher, in the awards final year, and granted $5000 for her outstanding achievements after completing The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Digital and Collaborative Learning, which provides educators postgraduate training for leading change in the digital age.

Through collaborative learning, educators develop practical strategies for bringing technology to life in the classroom, with the goal to overcome barriers and feel empowered in digital education to the benefit of all learners. Rauhina excelled at integrating newly appointed digital literacy measures within her role as Professional Learning and Development Māori Medium Facilitator.

On reflection, Rauhina said her highlight at The Mind Lab was working and learning alongside a diverse group of fellow educators.

“I was initially interested in The Mind Lab because of the digital content. As I am not digitally proficient I saw it as a way to become more familiar with digital technologies to help kaiako, tamariki and myself in teaching and learning,” Rauhina added.

Rauhina was one of four finalists from over 320 who graduated last week. Her extensive work in te reo Māori and collaborative approach sharing new learnings with other educators has been recognised by The NEXT Foundation and The Mind Lab.

“Rauhina was a unique winner of this year’s award. Completing The Mind Lab’s

Digital & Collaborative Learning Certificate to help other educators in her role as a Facilitator is an extraordinary commitment to ensuring she is aiding educators in the latest most relevant pedagogy and in particular with digital and technology skills. Most of our participants and past winners have been educators themselves – Rauhina is upskilling herself in this new space to make a difference with other educators, recognising, which seems like a compelling and powerful way to make a difference,” said Frank Janssen of Next Foundation.

“Rauhina was a regular contributor to discussions and also took full advantage of the opportunity to submit her assignments in te reo Māori, an option in the assessment process that we strongly encourage,” said The Mind Lab’s National Postgraduate Director, Dr David Parsons.

Rauhina says this nomination values the importance of incorporating Māori into the curriculum and says it’s what excites her about the future of education in New Zealand.

“I’m excited that tamariki will be recognised through the development of localised curriculum, thus recognising identity as a crucial factor in a students’ learning and education. I’m also incredibly excited for the recognition of the importance of te reo Māori for all New Zealanders.”

Rauhina worked alongside Robyn Hata-Gage and Hinekahukura Te Kanawa. The Mind Lab recognises all three educators for their achievement and for the work done by the Kia Ata Mai Educational Trust.

Since its inception in 2013, The Mind Lab has held its vision to transform New Zealand education by aligning digital skills and capabilities with the demands of the contemporary world. The Mind Lab has become the most significant educational facility of its kind in New Zealand with over 5000 teachers across the country committing to their Postgraduate Certificate in Digital & Collaborative Learning.