NZEI Primary Education conference

22.01.14

E ngā iwi, e ngā mana, e ngā reo,
Te whāea Papatūānuku e takato nei, tēnā koe
Te whare e tū nei, tēnā koe
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

I’d like to acknowledge Koro Alex, President Judith Nowotarski, the international speakers and the broad range of people here today – teachers, principals, providers of early childhood education among you.

Welcome to the capital and it’s good to see so many of you here taking a breath before the school year starts in earnest next week

With great pleasure I welcome you all to Wellington for the 2014 NZEI Te Riu Roa Primary Education Conference: Taking Stock, Moving Forward.

We can all remember teachers who inspired us – and inspired you to take the course of becoming teachers yourselves.

I once trained and taught English and Science to Years 7 and 8. Sometimes my Council was a little like an exercise in classroom management – and there are only fourteen councillors. It does show that whether your career remains in teaching or you branch out to something else – in politics or business or arts, the lessons you learn remain useful.

This conference is a great opportunity for you to discuss matters of importance to your sector and to all New Zealanders – the education and wellbeing of our tamariki.

You have great challenges with new technology, new subjects and new pedagogical insights. Meanwhile, child poverty, abuse and changing family structures bring different stresses. For some children, school is their refuge, their safe place, their oasis.

We must all remember that it’s hard to learn unless you are loved, warm and well-fed.

Primary education is supremely important. It gives young minds the tools they need to keep developing, learning and contributing. Education’s one of the biggest steps we can take to increase equality and end poverty.

While education will drive good jobs, and while you may have talented musicians or mechanics in your classes, it’s also about enabling every human being to enjoy life, not to feel their days are a series of tribulations.

Education provides opportunities for social change, making a better place for all of us to work, live and play

A good example of this is how we’re encouraging a generation of New Zealanders to think far more actively about the world we live in. Classrooms now have worm farms, recycling centres and rain gardens, for example. Wellington City Council is accelerating the
Genesis Schoolgen Solar partnership installing photovoltaics – the sun does shine more here than Germany – or Auckland.

We’re finding parents and families are being taught by children about the need to embrace a new way of thinking globally, and acting locally.

Our Council is actively involved in the development of the education sector locally, particularly through encouraging our export education sector and attracting investment in innovative areas of education. There is much here for the primary age too.

We welcome you and your students to visit our award-winning Museum of Wellington City and Sea and our Colonial Cottage. Of course you know Parliament is here but you might not know about the Holocaust Centre or Otari, the living National Plant Museum or the Carter Observatory.

One thing we’re developing is the Capital City Initiative. We want school-kids from all over New Zealand to come to Wellington and learn about our nation’s fascinating history at Te Papa, watch history being made at Parliament, understand the horrors of the Holocaust or visit Carter Observatory’s planetarium.

By 2015 we’ll have a programme developed for school students about what makes Wellington unique as a capital city, what makes Aotearoa New Zealand special and what makes our students special as New Zealanders.

Through the Wellington Museums Trust, we’re talking to a number of nationally significant organisations. Te Papa, National Library, the Treaty of Waitangi team, Parliament, Reserve Bank, Supreme Court, and the NZ Holocaust Centre are among them.

Sometimes teachers and parents dismiss the capital as too expensive to visit but there are plenty of places within easy public transport or walking reach, including the Silverstream Retreat, several urban marae including Taputeranga and Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi.

The Capital City Initiative aims to make it as easy as possible for schools from around New Zealand to visit Wellington, build a sense of national identity making sure their experience in the Capital is as rich, rewarding and informative as it should be.

I’d like to welcome all of you to Wellington, especially our international guests and those of you who haven’t visited our city before and a warm welcome back to those of you who are regular visitors to our city.

Explore and enjoy our Capital City!

Wellington boasts great coffee, great cafes and some world-class restaurants and bars.

I wish you all the very best for your conference, your stay in the Coolest little Capital in the World and for the year ahead.