Former Act MP Donna Awatere Huata is running Albany-based correspondence school The Learning Post.
She is general manager of education for west Auckland’s Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust, which has acquired the centre.
The job marks Mrs Awatere Huata’s return to the education sector.
In 2005 she was convicted of misusing public funds donated to education trust The Pipi Foundation.
She served almost nine months in jail and three months’ home detention before being paroled.
Speaking from her office in Albany, she dismisses the past few years as a "break".
" I’m no different from any other Kiwi faced with adversity – you move on.
"Few people are fortunate to work on the things they really care about, but I am one of them. I didn’t foresee working out west with Waipareira, nor did I foresee working on the Shore, but it’s been fantastic."
Her new project, The Learning Post, uses distance learning, with young women its main students.
"About half our clients are Maori who live in rural areas and can’t get into classes."
Mrs Awatere Huata says the programmes are ideal for young single mothers with small children.
"The 26-year-old woman who has had a couple of babies and can’t get out but wants to upskill is in our market."
The centre also has a number of disabled students who find it difficult to travel.
The school offers NZQA-accredited courses including computing, accounting, web design, programming, business administration and internet technology, all at certificate or diploma level.
In July the school plans to launch its te reo Maori programme to promote learning the language at home.
"It will be one of the strongest te reo programmes in the country.
"It will be available to preschools and allow teachers to learn themselves as they teach the children," says Mrs Awatere Huata.
It’s all about self-directed learning and motivation, she says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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