Kay-Lee Jones

Location: Teacher Education
Kay-Lee Jones

Kay-Lee Jones                             

Teacher Education

Kay-Lee Jones is a teacher of teachers, committed to “helping grow a heart for te Ao Māori”. The Board Chair of Te Pā o Rākaihautū describes her as “a great role model not only for her whānau but all who meet her.”  In addition to winning a UC Teaching award in 2020, Kay-Lee has also been recognised on the national level by the prestigious Ako Aotearoa Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching award – Kaupapa Māori category – only the second teacher at UC to achieve this success.  

What sets Kay-Lee apart is the way she radiates two important qualities. She personifies manaakitanga as she uplifts and empowers her ‘kaiako ō āpōpō’, and deeply embodies whanaungatanga, stating that “you can empower teachers holistically to be strong in a Māori and a Pākehā world by really getting to know them.”  

“I made the choice to learn te reo Māori. I love it and will always be a learner. I love teaching the history of our land and seeing a spark in those I teach from connecting with language, culture and identity.”

One ākonga describes how she “builds a strong sense of whanaungatanga through her enactment of the learner/teacher duality of ako. This is undertaken in a way that seeks to akiaki the mana of the individual learner…” 

Her colleague Professor Angus Macfarlane says: “Kay-Lee sets herself apart by way of her passion for, and her competence in, Māori-language teaching.” He describes her gentle, but effective, style of advocacy. “Kay-Lee has the potential to shift people’s ideas and philosophies nationally and locally, while maintaining calm and acceptable relationships at the learning and teaching level.”

Kay-Lee has helped nurture a love for te ao Māori in over 2000 student teachers at UC.  As graduates, they are now putting their understanding into practice in schools throughout Aotearoa, normalising Māori language and culture in everyday education. Kay-Lee understands the importance of her work, inspiring her future teachers to also value culturally-relevant spaces, to normalise this in their teaching practices and to embellish this in their children’s futures. This is espoused in the whakataukī that closely relates to her teaching, “poipoiā te kākano kia puāwai ai – nurture the seed and it will blossom”.