Uni, polytech in teaching award haul

Dunedin's tertiary institutions came up trumps at the Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards last night. Dunedin winners are (from left) Otago Polytechnic communication design academic leader Caroline McCaw, University of Otago Te Tumu, School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies lecturer Dr Karyn Paringatai (supreme award), Otago Polytechnic bachelor of culinary arts team members Daniel Pfyl, Adrian Woodhouse and David Gillespie, Otago Polytechnic School of Nursing principal lecturer Judith Roddick and culinary arts team members Tony Heptinstall and Stephen Ellwood. Photo by Gregor Richardson.Dunedin's position as a student city received a boost last night, when the city's institutions dominated at the Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.

• Top marks for teacher

Half of the 16 tertiary teachers who received awards at last night's event, held at Parliament were from Dunedin, including the winner of the Prime Minister's Supreme Award, Dr Karyn Paringatai, a lecturer at the University of Otago's Te Tumu - School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies.

The other Dunedin winners were from Otago Polytechnic, including five members of its bachelor of culinary arts course.

Ako Aotearoa director and member of the awards committee Peter Coolbear said Dunedin's success said a ''great deal'' about how much Otago University and Otago Polytechnic were focused on high-quality teaching.

''It comes down to great people doing the teaching, but it also comes down to the institutional support they get,'' he said.

Their success boded well for the city's ability to continue to attract students, he said. Dr Paringatai, a performing arts and language teacher, speaking when she knew she had won the Kaupapa Maori category but not the top award, said she was surprised to be recognised.

''When I was told it was absolutely amazing and humbling,'' she said.

Dr Paringatai aims to teach students to become proficient in te reo Maori and confident performers of haka and waiata and has revived the ancient practice of teaching in the dark.

She found teaching in ''total darkness'' allowed students to perform without being embarrassed and enhanced their listening skills - ''a song that used to take us maybe four or five weeks for them to perform, they learnt in two hours,'' she said.

She thanked both the university and her department, singling out her dean, Prof Michael Reilly, for allowing her to take a unique approach.

Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne congratulated Dr Paringatai for winning the supreme award.

''For Karyn to be recognised at this early stage in her career with this honour is incredible.

''She fully deserves this national recognition and she has an exciting future ahead of her,'' she said.

Last night's success marked the third year in a row an Otago University teacher had picked up the supreme award.

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said it was ''fantastic'' so many of its teachers had been awarded.

''It's such a wonderful achievement for the recipients, each of whom inspires and motivates their students through their passion, expertise and a willingness to push boundaries,'' Mr Ker said.

The Otago Polytechnic teachers to receive awards were the bachelor of culinary arts team, made up of senior lecturers Adrian Woodhouse, Daniel Pfyl and Tony Heptinstall and lecturers David Gillespie and Stephen Ellwood; School of Nursing principal lecturer Judith Roddick; and communication design academic leader Caroline McCaw.

Each team or individual winner won $20,000 and the supreme winner received an additional $10,000.