“It feels great to be back in the vocational education sector,” says Angela, “and I’m looking forward to what we can achieve with a more collaborative approach across our network of delivery.”
Angela recalls fondly her Wintec days with a dose of justifiable pride.
“I worked with an incredible team of talented people to establish the Physiotherapy School at Wintec in 2018 – bringing together diverse skills in community engagement, programme development, work-based learning, student support, Te Reo and Tikanga Māori and of course, physiotherapy. This was very much a team effort that occurred in partnership with communities and employers in the Midland region. It is the first new entry-to-practice physiotherapy programme to be accredited within New Zealand in the last 45 years and it was a proud moment for us when this programme had its first intake of students in 2019.
“Last week I took my daughter to a local physiotherapist after she injured her knee, and it was heartening to see one of our physiotherapy students in action. Alongside their clinical supervisor, this student was being incredibly well supported in their work-based learning and was enjoying every minute of the experience.”
Having delivered large-scale academic innovations, collaborating with learners, industry, employers, researchers, communities, Iwi, marae, Pacific leaders and education providers in the past, Angela is piqued for the challenges of aligning academic delivery for the 35th largest tertiary provider in the world.
“I consider the biggest challenge that I’m here to address is creating an equitable vocational education system. There is no such thing as high-quality education that is inequitable, and our current system is largely designed so that Māori experience differences in educational outcomes that are not only avoidable but unfair and unjust.
Angela knows that getting to excellence will take time, collaboration and goodwill.
“This will require systemic change and an approach that ensures all Te Pūkenga activities are fit for purpose for the bicultural context of Aotearoa NZ. We have some great examples of culturally responsive practice and incredible expertise to draw on from across the network and this is just one of the important benefits of establishing a cohesive, high-quality network of delivery with a common sense of purpose.”
For Angela, the outcomes of the mahi are the rewards for New Zealand as a whole and New Zealanders as individuals, whānau and communities.
“A healthy and vibrant Te Pūkenga is a vital part of ensuring that Aotearoa has an education system that can meet the skills needs of the future. Our new name, Te Pūkenga, signals the next stage in our journey as a unified vocational education sector. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to work together to shape this kaupapa and improve outcomes for everyone involved in the sector.
“At its best, education is transformative. Learners are at the heart of what we do here and every single one of us has an important role to play in their journey. I don’t think we should ever underestimate what a difference education can make in the lives of learners and their whānau and everyone deserves that opportunity.”