Programme Manager Auaha

Region: Canterbury/Chatham Islands
Gemma full


Master of Education – University of Canterbury
Post Graduate Diploma (Bilingual Education) – University of Canterbury
Post Graduate Diploma (Education) – New Zealand Graduate School of Education
Bachelor of Recreation Management / Community Recreation – Lincoln University

Professional profile

Since joining the Tātai Aho Rau Core Education whānau in 2014 (then known as CORE Education), Gemma has worked in a range of different contexts. One of her main areas of mahi is in building the cultural capability of an organisation; be it a school, kura, Kāhui Ako, government department, courtroom, or corporate workplace.

Whether she is delivering te reo Māori workshops, mentoring clients, conducting learning assessments, or guiding local curriculum design ‒ Gemma always acts with a deep respect for the learner.

Gemma is passionate about empowering people from all walks of life to speak te reo Māori and understand tikanga. She leads two te reo Māori online programmes for Tātai Aho Rau: Te Reo Puāwai and Te Reo Manahua. Delivered online, these courses support professionals to incorporate te reo into their personal or work setting. Tapping into Gemma’s expertise in digital technologies, she also discusses a range of tools that can be applied. With a holistic lens and an accessible approach to learning, Gemma aims to see a positive ripple effect within communities especially among our precious tamariki.

With a lifelong interest in social injustice and civil rights, Gemma has been heavily involved in the conversation around Aotearoa moving to a more inclusive and accurate teaching of its history. She presents the CORE seminar on NZ History where participants can gain a deeper understanding of past legislation and how it has impacted tangata whenua, the relevance of history education today, and how we can shape a better future for Aotearoa.

Working alongside teachers and leaders in English and Māori medium settings, Gemma helps to design solutions for them and by them. She has guided leaders and teachers in how to use digital technologies to promote learning in literacy and numeracy, and to enhance innovative learning practices. Helping leaders to form Communities of Learners has given Gemma considerable experience in supporting individuals and groups through change, ensuring they feel valued and their voice is heard.

Prior to joining Tātai Aho Rau, Gemma taught at Tuahiwi Kura. There she was head of EOTC and the teacher representative on the Board of Trustees. She tutored kapahaka and was an active member of the local community. Gemma supports her Kāi Tahu iwi and has a keen interest in te reo Māori development.


Gemma has expertise in the following areas:

Culturally responsive and bicultural practice

Successfully supporting learning communities and schools to:

  • conduct a cultural audit of their current practices
  • empower schools and kura to use the voice of tamariki and their whānau, along with local iwi to inform future decisions
  • improve te reo Māori pronunciation and use for all
  • use technology to support kaiako and tamariki/rangatahi in learning te reo Māori and how to use it in their spaces.
Digital fluency (English and Māori medium)

Gemma successfully supports learning communities schools to:

  • use the eLearning planning frameworks (English and Maori medium) to self-review elearning practices and
  • capabilities to identify and target areas for improvement
  • increase student engagement and achievement through the use of digital technologies
  • promote positive digital citizenship practices for learners, whānau, and teachers.
Change leadership

Gemma successfully supports learning communities and schools to:

  • redevelop their vision, values and personalised curriculum
  • support leaders and kaiako through the change process through mentoring
  • develop growth mind frames for positive change
  • establish meaningful relationships with whānau and local iwi to support the re-design of school curriculum so that it better reflects local history, reo, and tikanga.
Future-focused education

Gemma successfully supports learning communities to:

  • consider the needs of their ākonga, whānau and kaiako to set future-focused goals
  • break the mould of how things have been done in the past and redesign their practice for maximum effect.
Recent conference presentations, seminars and workshops

2020: Cultural Competence within Sport and Recreation
2020: New Zealand History and its Impact Today
2020: Enacting te Tiriti o Waitangi Everyday
2019: Cultural Competence in NPDL
2019: Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Local Curriculum

Personal statement

I am passionate about helping to create the best possible experience for all learners, whether in an educational, corporate or community setting. I believe we all have the potential to succeed when we are supported and challenged to reach our goals.

Knowing what it is like to be a complete beginner in the te reo Māori space, and to be out of your comfort zone, I bring this empathy to the professional learning I deliver. By putting participants at ease and building their confidence, I aim to help you move forward with understanding.

I am happiest when I see new learning happening. Recent highlights include: seeing kaiako using more te reo Māori in their setting, Kāhui Ako leaders recognising they had the mana to champion change in their cultural space, tamariki being tuakana of te reo, judges integrating a different world view into their spaces, and adults learning a new skill.

Connection and context is huge for me. I am dedicated to helping nurture a society that enhances the unique identity of our Māori culture for the benefit of everyone in Aotearoa. I believe that collaboration among all educators, using the tools available to us and keeping the needs of our tamariki and rangatahi at the centre of everything we do, are the keys to success.