Whanganui Learning Centre manager Gail Harrison has received a national Tertiary Teaching Excellence award for her contribution to adult education.

Ms Harrison received her sustained excellence award last week at a dinner at Parliament.

She has been an inspirational educator for the past three decades, and an advocate of participatory learning and strength-based approaches to learning and teaching.

As lead educator and manager at the Whanganui Learning Centre, Ms Harrison has had responsibility for up to 500 learners a year, of whom approximately 80 per cent are Maori. Her primary focus has been addressing inequality of education provision for indigenous and low-income groups, helping people transition towards a life of positive and transformational change.

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Adult and Community Education (ACE) Aotearoa director Colin McGregor said Ms Harrison has made a huge contribution to community education in New Zealand.

"She gives students ownership of their learning processes and production," Mr McGregor said.

Ms Harrison was Educator of the Year at the 2016 ACE Aotearoa Annual Awards and has shared her innovative practice at a number of ACE Conferences.