Māori Academic Receives Prime Minister's Supreme Award

The annual Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards recognise and encourage outstanding excellence in tertiary education at the highest national level.

On Tuesday 8 August twelve awards were made across both the General Category and Kaupapa Māori Category.  Dr Te Taka Keegan (Waikato-Maniapoto, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whakaue) from the University of Waikato was the recipient of both the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award and a Kaupapa Maori Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching Award.

Co-Director Professor Jacinta Ruru, recipient of this award last year, is thrilled to acknowledge Te Taka, “This is a superb achievement and behalf of the whole NPM network we are thrilled to join Te Taka, his colleagues, students and whānau in celebrating this success”.

Te Taka is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Waikato and his philosophy of teaching is grounded in tribal ancestral knowledge. He is widely considered as an engaging and effective lecturer, using humour, compassion and passion to open peoples' minds. He has been a trailblazer in the revitalisation of the Māori language. He translated the university's Computer Science papers, taught it in Māori and built the Ministry of Education's bilingual website for schools. Working with Microsoft he developed the Māori keyboard and led a project which launched and enabled Māori versions of Windows and Office. Te Taka is a highly esteemed visiting researcher with Google and is engaged in initiatives which provide direct benefits to students and others studying the Māori language, culture and history.

Te Taka has worked with NPM in the past as a researcher on the Te Kura Roa research programme and as a contributor on the 2014 publication, The Value of the Māori Language: Te Hua o Te Reo Māori. He has been a contributing researcher on a number of different NPM research projects and has also supervised an NPM Summer Internship.

Te Taka becomes kaitiaki of Rauaroha, a korowai weaved by Veranoa Hetet, that tells the story of how Tāne-nui-ā-rangi climbed to the uppermost of the twelve heavens to obtain the three baskets of knowledge.  Te Taka is now the fourth in a row to be awarded the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award from the Kaupapa Māori category demonstrating the outstanding national excellence of our Māori tertiary teachers. 

Our congratulations also to Mereana Rapata-Hanning, Principal Lecturer at the School of Nursing, Otago Polytechnic who also received an award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching - Kaupapa Māori for her nursing teaching focused on Māori health, cultural safety and Treaty of Waitangi issues.