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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, December 07, 2007

PISA leans towards NZ students

The Education Ministry believes programmes to boost Maori achievement will soon show up in international rankings.

The latest finding of the Programme for International Student Assessment... or PISA... ranks New Zealand students in the top four out of 57 countries in reading and science.

Mary Chamberlain, the ministry's curriculum manager, says while Maori students were represented at all levels of the survey, their over-representation at lower level could have affected the result.

She says programmes like Te Kotahitanga, which change the way teachers interact with Maori students, should change things.

“They're lifting our Maori students’ performance by up to a year, so the challenge now, we know what we’ve got, those improvements, sort of 200 and 300 schools at a time, we need to take that to scale and it’s then we expect to see those results reflected in a system measurement tool like PISA,” Ms Chamberlain says.

She says students respond to high expectations.

TWO THIRDS OF OWNERS DON’T COLLECT FROM MAORI TRUSTEE

The Minister of Maori Affairs hopes an overhaul of the Maori Trust Office will help it track down missing owners.

The office looks after more than 2000 land blocks for 186,000 owners, but only has valid addresses or bank account numbers for 42,000 of them.

Parekura Horomia says it's the sort of issue which sparked the reform bill now before Parliament.

“Generally one third of the owners get paid out because they know where their addresses are, another third they don’t know where they are and another third aren’t succeeding to their interests,” Mr Horomia says.

The changes should also allow the Maori Trustee to play a greater role in Maori economic development, especially for small business.

WHALES EMERGE IN KAI TAHU WORK

Whales loom large in new works by a Kai Tahu printmaker and painter.

Simon Kaan, who also has Chinese and Pakeha whakapapa, has previously done seascapes featuring mokihi, the reed boats Kai Tahu use for fishing and travel.

He says a pirated copy of Whale Rider he saw during a three month residency at the Red Gate Gallery in Beijing made him homesick... and may have influenced his painting.

“They're sort of open for interpretation with a whale being a store of knowledge as well and the explorer is a metaphor as well but also from an ecological perspective I suppose it’s quite a strong symbol as well, so it’s multi layered if you want to interpret it in that way,” Mr Kaan says.

"When" is at the Anna Bibby gallery in Auckland.

PUSH FOR HIGHER INTERNATIONAL RANKING

The Education Ministry's curriculum manager believes New Zealand could go even higher in international school rankings.

The Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, has ranked this country's students third out of 57 in science and fourth in reading.

Mary Chamberlain says it's an excellent result, but schools are trying to do better.

She says a lot depends on lifting Maori achievement, and research programmes like Te Kotahitanga are point to ways that can be done.

“Maori students that experience high expectations, that have teachers that like and care about them, who know what they’re learning and why it’s important an who get really focused and good feedback, they do improve and they achieve just as well as their counterparts,” Ms Chamberlain says.

WHEELCHAIR ARTISTS HAS FIRST HOME SHOW

A serious rugby injury set Dion Seeling on a path of creativity.

The Ngati Ranginui artist is holding his first solo exhibition at Gate Pa in Tauranga tomorrow.

The 47 pieces are inspired by Maori Warrior ideology and the female form.

He studied for an art diploma from home after an accident left him wheelchair bound.

“When I was 18 I broke my neck in a rugby accident and my life change pretty drastically so I spent a few years not knowing what to do after that and as soon as I started painting it was a form of rehab to get my body going again and I just took it ion form there. It was a lot of hard work, it wasn’t natural, but I did find I did like it,” Mr Seeling says.

He's exhibiting from his home to save money on gallery costs.

KRUMPING PIONEERS IN WEST AUCKLAND

An American alternative to gang battles is being promoted here as a way to reduce youth violence.

Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust has brought krumper Tommy The Clown and other Los Angeles-based dancers to give demonstrations at the New Zealand krumping championship this weekend.

Krumping is entertaining but also carries messages against gangs, drugs and violence.

Participants square off against one another, and dance as though they're getting electric shocks.

Wiki Wolfgramm from West Auckland Youth Services says Aotearoa's krump crews have devised a local variant that works kapa haka moves into the battle.

“It provides a physical outlet for young people to express their frustration in a safe way and allow young people to gain respect from their peers and their community by just krumping, battling against each other. There’s no contact involved and iot is a pure art of dance. It's quite amazing actually,” Ms Wolfgramm says.

Tommy and his Hip Hop Clowns will be battling the LA-based Krump Kings at Henderson Trust Stadium this weekend.

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