Our Early Childhood Education (ECE) Lecturer Mariana Raukawa (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāi Tūhoe) found her calling to work with tamariki early in life after becoming a mum at just 16 years old.
“Before I had my son, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do - but after seeing how I interacted with the kids at my son’s daycare, his grandma suggested I look into a career in early childhood education.”
Mariana agreed and soon after found herself in Tauranga studying towards her Bachelor of Early Childhood Education.
“I have such fond memories of my time training and all the different courses we did. I’ve taught in ECE centres for years and have since moved into tertiary education. One of the reasons for this transition is because I was so inspired by my lecturers when I was studying. I was 21 or 22 when I graduated and the way my lecturers taught me still influences the way I teach today.”
“I absolutely love teaching in class and being with the ākonga (learners). I’ve been all over the place in my career and all the experiences I’ve had have inspired me and made me feel like I’m adding value to their learning.” Over the years Mariana has worked in the education sector across Aotearoa and Australia.
“I noticed a huge difference between New Zealand and Australian daycares. I worked in corporate centres in Australia, but felt drawn back to the community-based centres here in New Zealand and that’s where I’ve spent most of my career.”
After returning to the country, Mariana worked in a teenage parent unit in Wellington to give back to the community that helped her as a young mum before moving on to a kindergarten in Auckland as a Head Teacher, then to the Ministry of Education in Hamilton, and eventually UCOL | Te Pūkenga
“I’ve been working at UCOL for almost two years now. I decided to move here to reconnect with my whānau. I was born in Whanganui, but didn’t grow up here. I wanted to come back and make those connections with my dad’s side. UCOL has been great for that - I get to spend time with my whānau and keep doing what I love, teaching.
“I like change and being a part of creating new programmes and courses. It was an exciting opportunity and something I had always wanted to do after studying - to become a lecturer and share my knowledge.”
“It’s a step up from the teaching Certificate and there’s lots of practical experience involved. The face-to-face learning is the biggest drawcard. I'm doing my adult teaching Certificate now in Level 5 and I can tell you, as a student, it makes such a huge difference.
For those considering a career in ECE, Mariana says UCOL is the perfect place to jump in.
“It could be life-changing for you. When I was considering whether I should do ECE, I questioned my patience, whether I could do it, whether I could study, but I just jumped in and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made - and you could do it too.”