Foxton's Te Pa Harakeke o Te Awahou Maori Immersion Early Childhood Centre recently held their bi-annual fundraising symposium with prestigious Maori leaders sharing their stories.
Alongside other speakers, Sir Mark Solomon told his story of becoming a key player in Ngi Tahu's Treaty of Waitangi settlement, and Maori party co-leader Marama Fox spoke about her journey to becoming a politician.
Chairperson of the Early Childhood Centre Milton Rauhihi said about 100 symposium attendees helped raise more than $20,000 for the centre.
"Early childhood is the most underfunded part of the education sector," he said.
"Without fundraising efforts like the symposium the centre struggles to meet the costs of high-quality Maori immersion education."
He said the fundraising event not only supports the centre but brings a calibre of speakers to Foxton that many might not otherwise encounter.
"Keynote speakers placed a wide lens on diverse matters relevant to te ao Maori (the Maori world) while local presenters provided a close-up lens on Foxton issues."
He said that feedback from attendees expressed how awe-inspiring the line up of speakers was, and how participants are keen to return to the next symposium in 2019.
"People took away something from each speaker and the speakers, while their topics were quite diverse, talked about common themes of self-determination, perseverance, qualities of good leadership, Maori values like manaakitanga, accountability, integrity," he said.
"We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors including Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Maori Development) and Te Wananga o Raukawa, Otaki. Many local businesses also supported us and we thank them too."