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Festival of Adult Learning Ahurei Ākonga 2018

This year the Festival of Adult Learning Ahurei Ākonga (formerly Adult Learner’s Week He Tangata Mātauranga) was launched on Saturday, 1 September at Rutherford College, West Auckland. The launch marked the beginning of a week of events across the country.

West Auckland, as Pale Sauni the MC for the event pointed out, is one of the relatively few communities in Aotearoa New Zealand where ACE continues to really thrive. And the day proved his point.

Rutherford College was one of the first four pilot schools selected in 1974 to provide adult learning. Today it is one of just a small group of high schools receiving TEC funding to provide ACE. A large and beautifully presented display of photographs illustrated the breadth of the courses currently on offer. Last year Andrea Cameron and her team at Community Education organised over 160 courses which were attended by over 2500 students.

The Week was launched by Charissa Waerea, ACE Aoteroa’s Tangata Whenua Chair. She reminded those present that the Festival of Learning Ahurei Ākonga is a UNESCO sponsored event held in more than 40 countries. It is a celebration which reminds us that we are global citizens and part of a global movement working to empower adults to take their rightful place in their communities, countries and the world.

Gary Moore from Rutherford College welcomed everyone on behalf of the college and the college kapa haka group provided entertainment.

The importance of ACE to this community was reflected in the unusually high number of MPs present: the Hon Phil Twyford, Deborah Russell and Alfred Ngaro all spoke. Deborah Russel was first and encouraged everyone to write to the Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education, asking for ACE funding to be restored. As an MP outside Cabinet, she said, she was free to make this suggestion. When the Hon Phil Twyford spoke he said that he absolutely supports more funding for ACE.

As usual the highlight of the event was hearing adult learners’ stories.

Following the launch participants were able to attend the ACE Expo at the Te Atatu library and community centre where locals were browsing the stalls of over 35 local ACE organisations. They also could take part in the awards ceremony at which the nominations and the winners of four awards were announced: the Outstanding Adult Learner Award; the Exceptional Adult Educator Award; the Innovative Provider Award and the Lifelong Adult Learner Award: many proud, successful adult learners

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