Top teaching awards go to Auckland academics

Two University of Auckland academics have won prestigious national teaching awards. Associate Professors Dr Christine Woods and Dr Mānuka Hēnare, who work down the corridor from each other in the Department of Management and International Business at the Business School, received Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching Awards from Ako Aotearoa.

Only 10 tertiary teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand received the awards, presented on Thursday night at a parliamentary ceremony hosted by the Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister for Education.

Dr Woods joined the University in 2000 and soon established a track record in the scholarship and teaching of entrepreneurship. She developed unique expertise in educating Māori entrepreneurs, and co-created programmes to engage school-aged girls in entrepreneurship and business. She played a key role in the ICEHOUSE owner/manager programme, and contributed to the University’s entrepreneurial development programme Velocity.

One student in a Stage 3 entrepreneurship course gave her this feedback: “Chris shows her students they are forces to be reckoned with. A lot of lecturers teach us what theories to learn. Chris is one of the very few that helps us actually harness these theories to be able to make the difference we want to make.”

Dr Woods is delighted to receive the award. “It means I can share the work I do, and acknowledge the support I’ve been given by others.”

She says good teaching is about adapting to the needs of each student, and learning with students.

“I love teaching - I love the challenge and the opportunity to learn with students and see them grow and succeed, to be part of a community of people learning together. I also love entrepreneurship. My passion for entrepreneurship began when I worked in Malawi as a small business advisor - instead of catching malaria I caught entrepreneurship!” 

Dr Hēnare (Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kuri), who received an award in the Kaupapa Māori category, joined the University in 1996 to teach Māori and Indigenous business enterprise and development and has built up programmes, mentoring and networks to advance education and research in this field, such as the Te Tohu Māori Business Development Programme. In 1999, he established New Zealand’s first dedicated Māori and Pacific research centre in business and economics, the Mira Szászy Research Centre for Māori and Pacific Economic Development. Its purpose: to enhance the quality of life for Māori, Pacific and other indigenous peoples, their communities, SMEs and nations. He is also co-director of the Whai Rawa: Māori Economies research theme of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM), New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) hosted by the University of Auckland.

Dr Hēnare says the award means that the kaupapa Māori approach to scholarship, particularly in business and economics, is recognised.

“I am quietly confident that maybe there’s a consensus arising around understanding the Māori economy, Māori business, its heritage and place in the modern world. My colleagues here and at other business schools know there are two economic histories running parallel in Aotearoa New Zealand – one is 1000 years old, the other is 160 years old and dates from the 1850s when new settlers from Britain established the settler economy.”

He says his approach to teaching is a “Māori form of the Socratic method” - teaching as dialogue.

Business School Dean Professor Jayne Godfrey congratulates the pair on their achievement. “As excellent teachers, Chris and Manuka foster excellence in their students. This is great for developing a generation of successful businesspeople and for the future of our economy.”