Polytech mover hon­oured

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Turoa Royal has had a life full of ed­u­ca­tional achieve­ments, but he doesn’t ex­pect re­tire­ment to re­duce his pas­sion.

The Pare­mata res­i­dent was named in the New Year hon­ours list as a Com­pan­ion to the New Zealand Or­der of Merit for his ser­vices to ed­u­ca­tion. He has been a teacher, school prin­ci­pal, a foun­da­tion di­rec­tor of Whi­tireia Com­mu­nity Polytech­nic and found­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of Te Wananga o Raukawa, and worked within the walls of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Th­ese days his heart lies in pro­mot­ing ed­u­ca­tion among in­dige­nous peo­ple via a con­sor­tium of aca­demics from the United States, Canada, Aus­tralia, Tai­wan and Colom­bia. He also has a strong de­sire to high­light why the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in New Zealand is fail­ing Maori and is writ­ing a book on the sub­ject. ‘‘I’m busy, got to stay busy. ‘‘I love what I do and it was very pleas­ing to get the [New Year] ac­co­lade, which is largely due to the ded­i­cated and pro­fes­sional peo­ple I’ve worked with over the years.’’

Dr Royal re­calls Whi­tireia in the early days.

‘‘It was called Paru­moana Com­mu­nity Col­lege be­fore the name change. In Au­gust [1985] we had 143 stu­dents signed up to start the next Fe­bru­ary, so we had to set it all up pretty quickly. We were a week late in the end, boy it was hard work. But look at Whi­tireia now, it’s just a fan­tas­tic place and in­cred­i­ble for Porirua, thou­sands of stu­dents pass through there.’’

His ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try has pro­vided him the abil­ity to com­ment ex­ten­sively on New Zealand’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and he says it is fail­ing Maori and Pa­cific chil­dren. It’s no good tack­ling lit­er­acy and learn­ing rates at high school; the work needs to be done at the preschool and pri­mary school level, and more time must be put in by par­ents, he says.

‘‘This has al­ways been my con­cern, we have to find a way to in­crease par­tic­i­pa­tion and get­ting those success rates at school up. It starts with par­ents, we need to sell ed­u­ca­tion to them be­cause ed­u­ca­tion equals a bet­ter qual­ity of life in the fu­ture.

‘‘ Ed­u­ca­tion opens up the world and gives you choices.

‘‘At early age par­ents must read, read, read to and with chil­dren. Help with home­work and en­cour­age read­ing books and news­pa­pers.’’

The fo­cus for Dr Royal this year is set­ting up a ‘‘global univer­sity’’ via the World In­dige­nous Net­work Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Con­sor­tium (WINHEC), of which he is the chair­man.

He says the hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple around the world who are dis­placed due to po­lit­i­cal un­rest or other fac­tors are los­ing ac­cess to their own cul­ture and lan­guage, and WINHEC aims to high­light this through jour­nals, ar­ti­cles and aca­demic study. He hopes it will even­tu­ally be able to in­flu­ence government poli­cies to­wards ed­u­ca­tion.

Ed­u­ca­tor: Dr Turoa Royal doesn’t let the spec­tac­u­lar view dis­tract him too much from his work with in­ter­na­tional aca­demics, who look to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion among in­dige­nous peo­ple.

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