Inspiring futures, building community

  • Role models on a panel during an event
  • children raising their hands
  • Role model pointing to a picture in front of children

“We aim to provide a learning environment which values cultural identity, encourages personal achievement and develops life skills in readiness for an ever-changing world.”

This is from the introduction to Newtown School on their website. And this is what we saw in action while working with them to put on three Inspiring the Future events – two during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.

Role model Mākere told us, “It was really clear that the school had invested lots of time and energy into these events being the best they could for the tamariki who I have seen out and about since the event, and they have come up to me to say hi. Building a community. Love it.”

The Newtown School teachers ran their Inspiring the Future events like a well-oiled machine, with questions for the role models pre-prepared and a break for the ākonga to run around and burn off energy before settling down for discussion groups.

Te reo Māori was encouraged throughout the events, and the students and teachers concluded the day with waiata and their mihi. Role models were invited to say a mihi or some words in return.

Mākere said, “It was really nice to hear so much te reo Māori being spoken by the teachers to the tamariki and it seemed to be the normal culture for this school, which made for a delightful experience, especially as my role is as a cultural advisor. I could connect to the language with the kids so naturally and I was able to weave lots of te reo Māori into my kōrero.”

Manaakitanga was a strong thread throughout the experience. Students who showed manaakitanga to role models by listening well and being respectful were given manaakitanga cards by the teachers, and the role models were taken good care of. They were provided with shared kai and welcomed into the staffroom to have a kōrero before and after the events, to meet and share their experience.

Rewarding for role models

The role models told us they had a great time – they were inspired themselves!

They were all incredibly engaging and honest about their backgrounds, which made them relatable to the tamariki. Role models also did a good job of avoiding technical jargon so that it was easy for the ākonga to understand their mahi.

Role model Natasha said, “I think the format is fantastic as the kids get to control the narrative and it was fun for kids. For example, we got to dress up so kids could try to guess what we did.”

Another role model, Kevin, said, “I found the experience to be rewarding and satisfying and a great opportunity to talk to young people about what I do and what they might be able to do in the future.”

Some of the role models’ jobs were:

  • Government worker and president of Wellington Skateboarding Association
  • Arborist
  • Business owner
  • Māori advisor
  • Epidemiologist
  • Marine geologist
  • Illustrator
  • City Mission social supermarket manager
  • Senior content advisor
  • Manager of stakeholder relations
  • User experience researcher
  • Dispute resolution solicitor
  • Builder/carpenter
  • Account executive
  • Senior advisor working in youth services
  • Water engineer

The “guess the role model’s job” game was as popular as ever, as were the props the role models brought along for the reveal: a skateboard, a chainsaw (don’t worry – no chain on it!), a backpack full of rocks, a shopping basket full of groceries, printed photos of their mahi, and more.

The water engineer had the brilliant idea of using a bottle of clear water from the tap, and a bottle of unfiltered brown water to show the before and after of his job.

Placing a high value on including whānau in school activities, Newtown School recognises parents and caregivers as the first teachers in a child’s life. It was wonderful to see parents invited as some of the role models.

Thank you to the Newtown School teachers and principal for running such an inspiring event.

Want to be involved in an inspiring event like this as a role model? Find out more and sign up.

Want to host an Inspiring the Future event at your school? Find out more.