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Teaching Award

Lisa Davies

15 February 2024

Meet Lisa Davies, a Kaitakawaenga Ako who offers essential educational support to ākonga transitioning to postgraduate research. 

Hapori Community of Practice Award


One of the primary areas of Lisa’s role is to support the Master of Māori and Indigenous Leadership (MMIL) programme, which has a diverse group of ākonga, many of whom are adult learners who have come to UC through alternative entry pathways as distance learners across New Zealand, and around half of whom enter postgraduate study without an undergraduate qualification.  Moreover, they have a wide range of roles and interests within their communities.  Whether they work in local or national government roles, for iwi, and for private organisations, each student develops a research project that focus on a key project within their community – often related to key areas of social development such as health, education, social work, housing, or policing.

Lisa’s approach to this challenge is to meet students where they are – quite literally! – by attending wānanga with students across New Zealand and forming relationships with students in the programme kanohi-ki-te-kanohi.  In this way, she builds trust with students, one of whom notes that “her compassion and understanding [make] you feel safe to share.”  While the distance nature of the two-year degree programme means that zoom sessions are essential as students’ study progresses, these relationships formed in person help students to open up, and feel comfortable calling on Lisa’s expertise.  Through all her interactions with ākonga, her diligence, warmth, and intellect shine through – her students note that “Lisa is an inspirational person,” that “[she] is exceptional in her role,” that “nothing is too much or too hard for [her] in her support of us,” and that she “consistently shows the values of aroha, manaakitanga, whanauangatanga and wairuatanga.”

The skills that Lisa teaches focus on enabling students to access research and apply it, both in their own research projects and in their engagement with their communities.  Whether she is teaching information literacy, referencing, or essential technology skills, the success of the support she offers can be seen not only in how many students are supported to succeed in the MMIL programme, but also in how many have gained the confidence to progress to further study at UC, such as doctoral research.  In the words of her nominator, Prof. Carl Mika, “she demonstrates the truth of the whakataukī "Poipoia te kākano kia puāwai – nurture the seed and it will blossom."”

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