Dr Ēnoka Murphy was named the Prime Minister’s Educator of the Year at Te Whatu Kairangi - Aotearoa Tertiary Educator Awards, held at Parliament on Tuesday. Te Whatu Kairangi are the most recognised awards within the New Zealand tertiary education and training sector, with the Prime Minister’s Educator of the Year Award being the highest accolade.
Dr Murphy (Ngāti Manawa, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Ruapani, Ngāti Kahungunu), a Senior Lecturer at Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao - the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato, was also awarded a Kaupapa Māori Award for his leadership in teaching and devotion to the reclamation of te reo Māori.
Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, presented the award on behalf of Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. Tinetti's remarks centred around Dr Murphy’s passion and talent as an educator, saying that he “has demonstrated outstanding work in connecting with learners and providing holistic support for a huge diversity of learners [and] has received consistently positive feedback over many years for excellent teaching and mentoring, [demonstrating] strong leadership in challenging times.”
Upon receiving the award, Dr Murphy was presented with the Rauaroha Korowai by the previous year’s recipient, Professor Carolyn Gates. Dr Murphy then went on to acknowledge those gathered, in particular the other awardees and their whānau who had come to support them.
“Some of the greatest have taught me, particularly my parents who are excellent teachers. I have also been honoured to work with some of the best at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato in Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao over the years.”
“I would also like to thank my students. As a teacher, it is a continual learning journey. The greatest teachers have been my students; they pick up on your mistakes - if you aren’t on the mark. I am grateful for the students who have taught me over the years and helped me be the teacher I am today.”
With over 30 years of teaching at all levels of education, Dr Murphy strongly believes that putting students first and spending one’s time and energy on them is crucial.
“True love, true compassion for others, for my students, comes from the journey I have been on. I have had numerous challenges with my health over the years, in and out of hospital, while still teaching. These challenges have shaped me and helped in the way that I work with students.”
Professor Robyn Longhurst, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, says that the University community is incredibly proud of Dr Murphy and his commitment to teaching excellence:
“It is clear from reading the comments made by Dr Murphy’s students in his teaching portfolio that he commits heart and soul to every conversation and every class with them. Students and staff alike have a deep respect for Dr Murphy as a person and as a teacher. We are so fortunate to have him as part of our whānau at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato.”
Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, conducts the Te Whatu Kairangi Awards on behalf of the Minister of Education.
“Our congratulations go to Ēnoka and the other awardees. It was wonderful to celebrate such a diverse range of educators and organisations in person,” says Derek McCormack, Selection Panel Chair, Te Whatu Kairangi.