Ngarino Ellis wins national teaching award

Ngarino Ellis (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou) is one of four University of Auckland academics to have their work recognised in the annual Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.

Ngarino Ellis
Ngarino Ellis

The award tells me that what I’m doing for my students is working and that this is recognised beyond the university.

Ngarino Ellis

Ngarino joined the Faculty of Arts in 1997 and is currently the only Māori art historian holding a teaching position in a New Zealand university.

In giving Ngarino the award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching in a Kaupapa Māori Context, Ako Aotearoa described her as at the forefront of her discipline, ensuring that Māori art is seen as central to Art History internationally and in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Ako Aotearoa says by ensuring that her classrooms are characterised by manaakitanga and rangatiratanga, Ngarino has been able to kindle students’ enthusiasm for Art History and support excellent learning outcomes over a sustained period. They say her teaching and learning practices demonstrate clear and consistent commitment to student empowerment and community building.

“The award tells me that what I’m doing for my students is working and that this is recognised beyond the university by my peers and others,” says Ngarino.

She says her greatest satisfaction in teaching comes from seeing students discover a new world, particularly Te Ao Māori.

“They come in at the start of the year not knowing anything. Most have never had a Māori lecturer. By the end of the year, they’ve completely changed in terms of their awareness of their place in the world – they’re ready to make real change, to contribute to the world.”

Ako Aotearoa’s award resonates with Maya Love, one of Ngarino’s students.

“Ngarino’s whole modus operandi is to open up perspectives within mainstream narratives,” says Maya who is doing honours in Art History.

“She’ll ask: ‘Have you thought about this more broadly?’ She extends the scope of art history beyond the traditional white dead heteronormative male artist.

“Ngarino is one of the most passionate academics I’ve had and she shows enormous care for each student.”

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