Diversity shared as NZTC early childhood education graduates celebrated in Auckland

Diversity shared as NZTC early childhood education graduates celebrated in Auckland

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Traditional dress from all over the world met formal graduation attire at New Zealand Tertiary College’s Auckland early childhood education graduation ceremony held on Wednesday evening.

Hundreds of family and friends gathered at Victory Convention Centre to celebrate over 150 graduates being honoured for their hard work, achievement and contribution in caring for and educating young children.

Glennie Oborn, who founded the college over 36 years ago, personally capped each graduate, with cultural diversity spontaneously shared as graduates crossed the stage. Haka, wāiata and song broke out from the audience at times, uniquely acknowledging graduates as they received their qualifications.

Saris, korowai and flower crowns were just some of the unique cultural elements that shone alongside the academic regalia of some graduates.

NZTC staff also shared in cultural traditions as the official proceedings began with a kaikaranga, wāiata and karakia. 

“Biculturalism and bilingualism are an important aspect of early childhood education and the college holds it in high regard in all that we do. As we celebrated 508 graduates throughout not only New Zealand, but the world, it’s special to acknowledge the cultural diversity of our students, graduates and staff,” said NZTC Chief Executive Selena Fox.

One of the graduation ceremony highlights was graduate representative Heidi Szentes’ lively speech.

“We are people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, united by the same passion. We all started our journey in different places, but we have been guided by those special NZTC values of Vision, Heart, Competence and Spirit,” she said.

Students who excelled throughout their studies were acknowledged with special commendation awards including Excellence in Practice, Academic Excellence and the NZTC Values Award for the student who best embodies all four of the college values.

Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) graduate Lorraine Kaihau who manages Te Kāhui Iti Nei o te Kōpū received an Excellence in Practice Award and the Values Award.

NZTC staff who nominated Lorraine shared, “She is passionate about learning and ensuring quality education for tamariki. She sets herself high standards and always meets and exceeds these. Lorraine is an asset to early childhood education.”

Academic Excellence winners Amanda Burr, Postgraduate Diploma in Education (ECE), and Tania Van Niekerk, Master of Early Childhood Education, both attributed their success to support from family.

“I’m very honoured and very humbled to receive the award. It has been a long journey for me and it was not me alone. My family and very dear friends supported me all the way,” said Van Niekerk.

Master of Education (Early Childhood Education) Academic Excellence Award winner Janice Pennells said it was “really cool” to win the award, and she was very proud.

“But there was a lot of people involved. People at my centre, parents, families, the support that I got from New Zealand Tertiary College – they are amazing. And I don’t think I’ve finished, I feel like I still want to keep learning. It’s been a great journey.”

Orlene Dcunha also received an Academic Excellence Award for the Graduate Diploma in Teaching (ECE).

The graduation celebrations are set to continue with a ceremony to be held in Christchurch on Wednesday 18 April to acknowledge NZTC’s graduates based in the South Island.

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Lorraine Kaihau receives her award (left) and Tania Van Niekerk with Glennie Oborn and Selena Fox (right)