Prin­ci­pal em­braces re­search

Central Leader - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

MT AL­BERT Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Enosa Auva’a is a rare find.

He rep­re­sents 1.1 per­cent of New Zealand’s school leaders of Pa­cific Is­land de­scent.

It’s a fact he dis­cov­ered in 2004 while re­search­ing his ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship and man­age­ment the­sis for his mas­ter’s de­gree.

Now with the help of a Ful­bright-Cog­ni­tion Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search Trust schol­ar­ship, he will go a step fur­ther to dis­cover why that is, in a bid to change it.

Mr Auva’a will use the schol­ar­ship to con­tinue re­search into eth­nic mi­nor­ity lead­er­ship, study­ing full­time at the Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii in Manoa next year.

“The di­ver­sity of stu­dents in New Zealand schools is not re­flected in lead­er­ship roles and the more peo­ple think­ing about that can only be good for us,” says the 51-year-old.

“I hope my re­search can iden­tify ways to in­spire more mi­nor­ity school leaders in New Zealand. I feel priv­i­leged to be go­ing as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of my peo­ple and my school.”

Mr Auva’a was born in Vailoa Faleata Samoa in 1958 and al­though his fa­ther was a Methodist min­is­ter, both his par­ents came from school teach­ing back­grounds be­fore im­mi­grat­ing to New Zealand in 1970.

Grow­ing up in Auck­land, Mr Auva’a lived in Mt Eden and at­tended Auck­land Nor­mal In­ter­me­di­ate and Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School.

He met his wife Fe­lic­ity, a pri­mary school teacher, mu­si­cian and lo­cal coun­cil­lor, when they trained at teach­ers’ col­lege and they have lived in Pa­pakura for 30 years.

In Hawaii Mr Auva’a will study the sto­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences of mi­nor­ity school leaders in the United States, to find out how as­pir­ing mi­nor­ity teach­ers are en­cour­aged to­ward se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions.

He says be­cause of its larger pop­u­la­tion a lot can be learnt that could help lim­ited knowl­edge of the field in this coun­try.

“We just don’t have the crit­i­cal mass to work from. I hope this re­search will pro­mote re­flec­tion on the type of lead­er­ship re­quired for a mul­ti­cul­tural school.”

Con­cerned by the se­ri­ous lack of mi­nor­ity lead­er­ship in ed­u­ca­tion, Mr Auva’a’s re­search iden­ti­fied bar­ri­ers faced by as­pir­ing Pa­cific prin­ci­pals, such as racism, dis­crim­i­na­tion, lev­els of ex­pec­ta­tion and lack of con­fi­dence.

“Th­ese are per­sonal and sys­temic con­di­tions,” he says.

“Some were not con­fi­dent about the ap­point­ment process or their qual­i­fi­ca­tions even though they were uni­ver­sity or mas­ters grad­u­ates. Oth­ers lacked con­fi­dence in the sys­tem it­self.”

A lack of pro­fes­sional sup­port was also iden­ti­fied, which prompted Mr Auva’a to de­velop a na­tional net­work in 2008 called the New Zealand Pasi­fika Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Eth­nic mi­nor­ity leaders can make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to raise stu­dent achieve­ment by role mod­el­ling suc­cess and achiev­ing rap­port with eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies,” Mr Auva’a says.

His ca­reer in ed­u­ca­tion spans three decades and he has been the prin­ci­pal of Mt Al­bert Pri­mary School since 1991.

“It is a beau­ti­ful and friendly com­mu­nity,” he says.

“It’s well re­sourced and there are a mix of eth­nic­i­ties. It’s got a lovely pro­file of what I call Auck­lan­ders.”

He has three school terms to pre­pare for his five-month sab­bat­i­cal. When he re­turns he will present his find­ings to the Ful­bright-Cog­ni­tion Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search Trust and the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry.

Photo: NEIL DUDDY

Hawaii call­ing: Mt Al­bert Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Enosa Auva’a is tak­ing his re­search over­seas with the help of a Ful­bright schol­ar­ship.

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