Vicki Hiini

Vicki Hiini

Master of Educational Leadership

Te Puke

Vicki Hiini

Mastering education for an equitable future

Vicki Hiini is the Deputy Principal of Te Puke’s Fairhaven School, and in December 2019 she graduated from the University of Waikato with a Master of Educational Leadership - first-class honours. For Vicki, making education equitable is not just a goal, but something she is determined to achieve.

The driven educator, whose school has recently been nominated for two categories in the Prime Ministers Education Excellence Awards, says that completing her Master’s at the university’s new Tauranga campus has supported her in making the leadership decisions needed to help remove the barriers some of her students face.

“My master’s studies have had an incredibly positive impact on my practical work.

“I’ve been at Fairhaven since 2002. I know the school inside and out. But it was having the opportunity to step away from the treadmill that helped me not only grow as an educator but see opportunities I might not have otherwise.”

It is fair to say that Vicki Hiini has not just seen opportunities but done a lot for her school community in recent years.

It was Vicki who lobbied funding for a free bus service so students could get to school each day. It was Vicki who made literacy more accessible by running reading together workshops at the local marae. And it was Vicki who created a play-based learning group for local educators (a group she now chairs).

Her dedication to supporting every kid who walks through the gate is evident. Vicki says she is beyond passionate about reducing the barriers to education in her community.

“As an educator, I feel it is my responsibility to try and reverse the negative statistics. It is not good enough to accept things the way they are. We need to ask why. We need to look for the barriers and we need to ask what we can do to remove them.”

It is clear to see Vicki puts this thinking into action. The free bus, the literacy programme at the marae and the play-based learning group for other educators are all solutions that have helped remove barriers in education.

Humble Vicki is, however, quick to point out that the support of her colleagues and the community were instrumental to it all. She also credits her master’s training as giving her research insights and the confidence to lead.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to further my education at the new Tauranga campus. Doing my master’s has enabled me to access the most up to date and relevant education research from around the world and then apply the learnings right here at Fairhaven.”

Vicki says having the Tauranga campus so accessible, as well as the array of student services available, made juggling her studies with being a mum easy.

“Personally, I prefer learning in a classroom rather than online. It was great to have a local mentor and I also loved having the option of choosing papers with block course elements that I could do in Tauranga.

“There was a lot of flexibility in the way courses were presented which meant there were no real barriers – the library even delivered books to my house when I needed them!”

What next for Vicki? Taking the time to do her master’s, she says, has been a crucial part of her leadership journey. The ambitious educator says she looks forward to continuing to use her learnings to help students flourish.

Vicki Hiini

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