Waikato lecturer humble about Maori award

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 12:55 08/07/2014
Enoka Murphy
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WORK RECOGNISED: University of Waikato lecturer Enoka Murphy’s passion for teaching te reo Maori and tikanga earned him a Sustained Excellence award at the Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Awards

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Enoka Murphy's not one to aim for the spotlight but his teaching work and passion for te reo has brought it onto to him.

The Waikato lecturer recently received a $20,000 award for teaching in a kaupapa Maori context as part of the Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Awards.

Murphy sees noise and enjoyment as key in a language classroom.

And the University of Waikato te reo Maori me ona tikanga [Maori language and customs] lecturer's enthusiasm is said to be as infectious as his humour.

But collecting the award still wasn't within his comfort zone.

"There are excellent Māori teachers all over the place who won't go for this sort of thing unless they are pushed. There are people who have been doing this for 50 years and they are awesome. People like Wharehuia Milroy, Timoti Karetu, Huirangi Waikerepuru and many others," he said.

"I can jump around and make cool games and great resources whereas they can just sit in a chair and speak and every student will hang off their every word. This is as much an acknowledgement of them."

But it's not the first recognition of his work - last year he took out one of the university's Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards.

Education has always been part of Murphy's life, as his parents were teachers and in his career he's worked in kohanga reo, kura kaupapa Maori and at tertiary level.

But teaching te reo was something special, he said.

"It's not just getting up in the morning and going to work. We're part of it. Te reo is at the core of the reclamation of our language, our culture, our rights. Without language, it is so much more challenging to have a culture."

And Murphy's students and colleagues are quick to praise him.

Comments in his citation include "his enthusiasm is infectious (as is his) sense of humour" and "his depth of knowledge is outstanding and his work ethics are exceptional".

A fellow lecturer last year said "Enoka is an excellent teacher . . . he is an expert in the language and customs, committed to his students and a formidable orator".

This year 12 awards were presented for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching - two under the Kaupapa Māori category, and 10 in the general category.

The awardees receive $20,000 as part of their prize.

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