A Tauranga woman has won a prestigious early childhood award award and is planning to explore the connection between Hawaiian language and te reo.

Karine Te Kanawa won the 2016 Margaret M Blackwell Travel Fellowship and said the award was "one of the highest honours" that could be given by the Ministry of Education to an early childhood educator.

She would be travelling to Hawaii to study their language programme and to create bonds between the preschool she would be visiting, and the centre she worked at in Tauranga.

The mother of four teenagers, who also works full-time as a team leader at UrbanKids and studies part-time, said she felt, "humbled and proud to achieve such a prestigious award".


"I am going on this trip with an open mind and heart and with excitement.

"I applied for the award in a bid to make a difference and inspire more Maori to have the self belief within themselves that anything is possible, and also to create better systems within mainstream early learning centres within Aotearoa to support the advocacy of te reo Maori for children, whanau and educators across Aotearoa," Ms Te Kanawa said.

She planned to go for six weeks in October.

"The trip is about making those connections between my own heritage and the indigenous people of Hawaii."

"I am setting out to create relationships for life in the education realm and a Pacific partnership between two nations, with children being the greatest benefactor of all," Ms Te Kanawa said.

She was studying for her Masters in Educational Leadership at Waikato University, and would be reporting on her experiences when she returned.