Third UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education

Cheryl and LibbyThe National Commission shone the spotlight on global citizenship education in March, funding three representatives to attend the Third UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education in Ottawa, Canada. Education Commissioner Cheryl Stephens attended, along with teacher and global citizenship advisor Libby Giles and Year 13 student Scarlett Parkes from Auckland Girls’ Grammar who co-wrote and presented an International Youth White Paper on Global Citizenship with an international team of young people. 

Drawing together around 500 participants from all regions of the world, the forum connected to discussions, activities and events in UNESCO’s week for Peace and Sustainable Development: The Role of Education.

Visit to UNESCO Office for the Pacific States

group photo Apia March 2017The National Commission strengthened its Pacific connections with a visit to the UNESCO Office for the Pacific States in Apia in March.

Chair Robyn Baker and Secretary General Vicki Soanes were hosted by the newly appointed Director of the UNESCO Apia office, Ms Nisha over three days. During their visit they participated in a series of meetings with UNESCO specialists in each of the programme areas.

“It was a great opportunity to discuss and exchange UNESCO’s work and the National Commission’s priorities, investigating possible work together,” says Vicki. “Our strategic focus prioritises the Pacific region, so being able to build our relationships in this way is invaluable.”

‘Big Girls’ celebrate New Zealand’s ethnic diversity

Big GirlsSeventeen ‘larger than life’ women dancing in the streets of Palmerston North caused a sensation at the city’s International Women’s Day Parade on 8 March. 

The Big Girl giant puppets, designed to celebrate diversity in Aotearoa, represented women from a wide range of communities, including Latin America, South East Asia, Syria, Japan and Samoa. Some had been created collectively this year by women in Palmerston North and the Wellington region through workshops run by Rangiwahia Environmental Arts Centre Trust (REACT) and funded by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.

Holocaust remembrance in Wellington

Robyn Baker attended her first event as Chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO at the observance of United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Wellington on 27 January.

The serene rural surroundings at the Jewish Cemetery, Makara, were backdrop for the event, where Robyn and other dignitaries laid commemorative stones.

Robyn Baker speaking Holocaust commemoration webIn breezy sunshine, Mayor of Wellington Justin Lester, German Ambassador H E Gerhard Thiedemann, and Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy made strong statements on upping the opposition to hate speech, as well as the need for remembrance to also include personal commitment to individual action.

A major theme was the 70 years since the 1947 Nuremberg trials of doctors and lawyers who were complicit in Nazi Germany’s devastating anti-Jewish policies.

The German ambassador referred to those trials, their influence on subsequent international law, and the setting up of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy. It is dedicated to the promotion of international criminal justice and human rights.

“In a world today that seems darker, with hate and intolerance on the rise, it’s easy to fear that we are forgetting the hard won lessons of history,” said Mayor Justin Lester. “All of us have a moral responsibility to stand up to hate, to intolerance, to injustice. We all have a role to play.”

Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature activities

Literature continues to be a vibrant part of Dunedin life. Here’s a taste of what’s been happening in the UNESCO City of Literature lately, and a preview of the year ahead.

Poems in the Waiting Room

The Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) project, based in Dunedin, distributes 8000 free poetry cards every season to medical waiting rooms, rest homes, hospices and prisons throughout New Zealand. The three-fold brightly coloured cards usually contain eight poems, including one for children and a haiku. Poets and publishers from Dunedin and the world over, including Bloodaxe Books and Faber & Faber, have generously loaned requested poems for each edition. 

poems in waiting room

Improving water quality in Samoa

Water sampling lowresA major project aimed at assessing and improving water quality in Samoa has been in operation this year, with support from the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.

A team of researchers from Massey University’s Pacific Research and Policy Centre have been working with Pacific Island researchers led by Patila Amosa from the National University of Samoa (NUS) to collect and analyse water samples. Their findings will provide baseline standards for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Samoa to routinely assess water quality and develop management strategies that ensure communities, especially the young, are safe when using natural water bodies.

Beeby Fellowship to create mental health education resource

Katie Fitzpatrick and Kat WellsThe Beeby Fellowship for 2016-2017 has been won by a university researcher and a secondary school teacher, who will collaborate on a mental health education teaching resource for students in Years 7-13.

Associate Professor Katie Fitzpatrick (pictured left), an internationally recognised authority in health education from the University of Auckland, and Kat Wells, head of the health and physical education faculty at Lynfield College, Auckland, have been announced as the co-Beeby Fellows, following a selection process.

The fellowship, worth $30,000, will enable them to write a resource book for teachers on mental health and hauora, which is an area of health education that is currently under-resourced. A recent youth health survey highlighted concerns about depression, deliberate self-harm and suicidal thoughts in the 13-18 age group.

The book will provide practical information for teachers on educating students about resilience, interpersonal skills and wellbeing. It will also help students gain the skills to communicate effectively, reflect on their needs and wellbeing, and develop resilience, stress management tools and anti-bullying strategies.

Million Dollar Mouse protects world heritage

megaherb plantA major pest control operation that has required three years of planning is underway in the Antipodes Island, one of the Sub-Antarctic Islands UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Called ‘Million Dollar Mouse’, the project is one of the most complex island eradication operations ever attempted by the Department of Conservation (DOC). It has faced a number of logistical challenges, including the island’s remote location, unpredictable weather and lack of harbour for shelter when loading and unloading ships. Despite this, DOC has managed to transport 18 staff, 65 tonnes of bait and 30 tonnes of fuel across 800 kilometres of Southern Ocean. The safe delivery of two bait applications across the island has involved detailed planning and careful execution, using every window of good weather.

Vicki Soanes appointed Secretary General

Vicki Soanes use this oneThe New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO is delighted to announce Vicki Soanes’ appointment to the position of Secretary General.

Vicki has been Acting Secretary General for the past nine months. She was originally recruited to the Secretariat six years ago as the Programme Officer for education and youth. During that time Vicki has led a number of flagship initiatives for the National Commission in New Zealand including ‘Looking Beyond Disaster’ (promoting youth-led disaster resilience), the Associated Schools Network, global citizenship education initiatives and setting up the youth reference group for the National Commission. Vicki led the New Zealand delegation to the 60th Anniversary of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network in Suwon, Korea in 2013, and was part of the delegation to the UNESCO General Conference in Paris the same year, and the recent National Commissions Inter-Regional meeting in Shanghai. 

Meet our new Natural Science Commissioner, Geoff Hicks

Geoff Hicks image providedDr Geoff Hicks replaced Dr Bob Frame as National Commissioner for Natural Science on 13 November. Geoff recently retired from the role of Chief Scientist at the Department of Conservation where he led and advised on the development of a long-term strategic agenda for research and managed the department’s science relationships and investment activities. Trained as a marine biologist, he had a productive research career spanning 25 years in both academic and cultural settings. He was Conceptual Leader and was responsible for creating the three popular natural environment exhibitions (Awesome Forces, Mountains to Sea and Bush City) at Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand.

Geoff has considerable experience working across UN agencies and for the last eight years has been New Zealand’s head of delegation to the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Serving on a number of governance and advisory committees, most recently as co-chair of the End-User Advisory Panel of the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, he maintains strong science system networks and is an Emeritus Research Associate at Landcare Research. He holds a Diploma from the World Cultural Council (Consejo Cultural Mundial) and is a standing member of its Interdisciplinary Committee that elects the annual Albert Einstein World Award of Science. 

What attracted you to the role?

I have represented New Zealand at a number of UN related conventions and agreements, working at the science-policy interface. The opportunity to join the National Commission and contribute further to the internationalisation of New Zealand’s natural sciences is very appealing. At my retirement earlier this year I was delighted to be appointed Emeritus Research Associate at Landcare Research, which will assist the creation of stronger links between domestic and global natural sciences.

Meet our new Chair, Robyn Baker

NZCER Robyn Baker Profile webRobyn Baker’s career has been in the field of education where she has contributed as a teacher, researcher, curriculum developer, teacher educator and leader. She was the Director and CEO of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research from 2000 to 2014. As a science educator Robyn has been involved in many national developments, including science curriculum and environmental education initiatives. She was a member of the Royal Society Council 1997-2002 and more recently chaired its Education Committee.

Robyn led the management of the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (2003-2014). Currently, she chairs the selection and monitoring panels for the Teacher-led Innovation Fund. This fund is one aspect of the government’s Investing in Educational Success policy and provides funds for teachers to investigate new and innovative practices that have the potential to improve student learning.

Robyn has considerable experience of governance, as a senior manager working to a board and as a governor. Currently she is the Deputy Chair of the Board of the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), a global research organisation with significant operations in a number of countries, including India, South America and Africa.

Robyn is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education (2015) and in 2002 was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand Silver Science and Technology medal.

What attracted you to the Chair role?

The possibility of working with an expert collective – the Commissioners and the Secretariat – to make a small, but deliberate contribution to shaping the future we want for the upcoming generations attracted me to the role. The issues we face nationally and globally are complex and I think solutions require people with a diversity of expertise working together in systematic and sustained ways. It also requires a focus on areas that matter and thinking about the opportunities offered in the intersection between these key areas. I believe that the five areas of focus for the National Commission – education, communication and information, social and human sciences, natural sciences, and culture – all have a critical contribution to make as we shape the future we want and need.

In all, the National Commission focuses on areas that I think are important. It offers both diversity and expertise along with rich networks. I was keen to be part of this.

Teacher’s Choice award for Beeby Fellowship resource

Caroline YoonRecent Beeby Fellow Dr Caroline Yoon received the Teacher’s Choice for Best Resource in Secondary at the New Zealand Content Counts Education Awards on 24 November, along with a resource about the Treaty of Waitangi.

Dr Yoon, who is an associate professor at the University of Auckland where she heads the Mathematics Education Unit, created her resource LEMMA: Mathematics tasks that promote higher order thinking during her Beeby fellowship.

The resource encourages secondary school maths students to focus on problem solving and critical thinking. It differs from a standard maths textbook as it addresses higher level skills and higher level thinking that are much harder to assess and often missed. It also promotes communication and writing skills.

For more information on the resource visit the New Zealand Council for Educational Research website or watch this video featuring Dr Yoon. 

UNESCO honours early New Zealand heritage documents

Sir John Logan Campbell webThe papers of Auckland’s founding father Sir John Logan Campbell (pictured right), the Katherine Mansfield Literary and Personal papers, the Waipu Scottish Migration Collection and Lancelot Eric Richdale’s Papers on research of New Zealand seabirds in the early 20th century are this year’s inscriptions onto the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand documentary heritage register, announced on 8 November.

UNESCO recognition draws attention to the significance of documentary heritage and the institutions that care for it.

The Memory of the World New Zealand Trust Chair Dianne Macaskill said, “the Memory of the World Trust is delighted to now have 20 inscriptions of significant documentary heritage items on the register. All greatly contribute to the story of our nation’s history and heritage and are significant to the identity of New Zealanders today.

“The Sir John Logan Campbell Papers are significant to the business and social history of the early days of Auckland, now New Zealand’s biggest city and economic powerhouse.

“The Katherine Mansfield papers are highly significant to the works of the author and the international recognition it receives today.

“The Waipu Scottish Migration Collection is the first successful inscription from outside a main centre. The collection documents a significant international migration by the Reverend Norman MacLeod and his followers in the 1800s from Scotland to Nova Scotia, via South Africa to Australia, and to New Zealand, reflecting the spread of the British Empire of the time.

“Lancelot Richdale papers document early research into New Zealand seabirds. They are of great scientific value and include rare early films of albatrosses at the now world-renowned Otago Albatross Sanctuary.

“These documentary heritage collections are excellent sources of research for historians, researchers, educators and many others in the wider community.”

National Commission awards $279,000 in grants

The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO is delighted to announce the awarding of 13 grants worth $279,000 in total for the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO’s 2016/2017 Contestable Funding Round.Nature through Arts downsized

“The successful projects all contribute to the mandate of UNESCO in some way, demonstrating innovation which is likely to lead to positive long-term change,” says Ian McKinnon, Chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO. “We are pleased to support activities that will make a significant difference in our New Zealand communities as well as the wider Pacific.”

Projects to receive funding include workshops run by Kakano Films Ltd supporting Māori and Pacific youth to make films that will be screened at the first Māoriland Rangatahi Film Festival next year; an app developed by the New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils Inc to support local ethnic migrant and refugee youth; and the development of a digital educational resource for the successful ‘Imagine my City’ pilot project, engaging young people with nature in their communities.

The mission of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO is to further the vision and current goals of UNESCO in New Zealand and as part of the Pacific through education, the sciences, culture and the free exchange of ideas and intercultural dialogue.

The list of successful 2016/17 UCAF Grant recipients is here

Photo courtesy of Nature Through the Arts Collective Trust

Launch of OERu 1st Year of Study approved

A project to widen access to more affordable education opportunities worldwide was announced at a landmark meeting in Scotland in October.

UNESCO and International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) Chair in Open Education Resource (OER) Dr Wayne Mackintosh, Director of the OER Foundation based at Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, facilitated the 5th International Meeting of OERu partners and the Open Education Resource universitas (OERu) Council of Chief Executive Officers’ Meeting in Inverness, hosted by the University of the Highlands and Islands.

UHI Group downsized

At the meeting the Council announced plans to launch the OERu 1st Year of Study programme early in 2017. This will offer learners the opportunity to gain internationally recognised qualifications including the Certificate Higher Education Business (OERu) from the University of Highlands and Islands; and the Certificate of General Studies from Thompson Rivers University in Canada.

Discussing peace in the Middle East

To celebrate International Peace Day, the United Nations Association of New Zealand and Wellington City Council held a panel discussion to talk about what can be done to bring communities together once the conflict ends in the Middle East. Professor Paul Morris, who holds a UNESCO Chair, was among the speakers. He provides an overview of the event.

Paul MorrisAfter introductions from the Mayor; the Chair, Dr Rod Alley; and Joy Dunsheath, President of the United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNANZ), Dr Darren Brunk alerted the audience to the worsening plight of refugees from Syria and called upon the broad generosity of the New Zealand public to support refugee programmes and initiatives.

Professor Paul Morris introduced the work of the United Nations Association of Civilizations (UNAOC), stressing New Zealand’s pivotal role in its early development in this region. He focussed on its new scholarships at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University in England; the Inter-faith celebration of cultural identity through food security, which will take place early in 2017; the UNAOC summer schools; Plural + (Youth Video festival on migration, diversity and social inclusion, in New York next month); the Youth Solidarity Fund; the UNAOC Fellowships; and, the UNAOC Hate Speech conference and campaign.

Professor Morris called for young people to get involved and join the global community in participating in UNAOC activities. He ended by quoting Emmanuel Levinas and his reminder that “my fellow’s material needs are my spiritual needs”.

National Commission represented at Asia Pacific Youth Dialogue

Peace was at the top of the agenda at the inaugural Asia Pacific Youth Dialogue in Chendu, China, officially launched on 21 September, International Peace Day, attended by two Youth Reference Group members.

Teina and DanielleThe three day forum brought together youth delegates from 46 countries, including young New Zealanders Danielle Newton (Youth Reference Group Chair) and Teina Wells-Smith, who represented the National Commission.

The Dialogue was structured around two core themes; the nexus between Asia Pacific civilizations, cultures, and social cohesion, respect for diversity and peace building, and the role of youth as agents of change and custodians of the future regionally and internationally.

“The strongest connections we made were with our brothers and sisters from the Pacific,” says Danielle.  “We all understood the nature of the problems in our region and were able to form recommendations which spoke to how we, as youth, could really make a positive impact around issues such as climate change, preservation of culture and gender equality.”

The duo plan to keep in touch with their new Pacific networks. “We all worked so well together through exciting discussions that these connections must be kept strong andcontinued if we are to progress with the goals and aspirations we've put out there,” says Teina.

Both Danielle and Teina enjoyed the culinary challenge of Chengdu hotpot and the friendliness of the Chinese people. “My first impression of China was that it was actually greener than I thought it would be! I grew to love the city more and more each day,” says Danielle.

Commission launches Global Education Monitoring Report

Kiwi comic artist and illustrator Toby Morris demonstrated how cartoons can be used to promote social messages at the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO’s launch of a significant global report on Wednesday 20 September.

The New Zealand launch of UNESCO’s inaugural Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report EducaToby Morris smallertion for people and planet: Creating sustainable futures for all featured four guest speakers: prominent educationalist Dame Karen Sewell, Toby Morris, the National Commission’s new Education Commissioner Cheryl Stephens and Youth Reference Group member Raven Maeder, with Chair Ian McKinnon as Master of Ceremonies.

The GEM Report is the first in a 15-year series that monitors global progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Education, which UNESCO is leading.

“The aim of SDG4 is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” says Ian McKinnon, Chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.

“We need to see education as more than transferral of knowledge – it’s about empowering citizens of all ages to think critically and find innovative solutions to today’s global issues.”

Toby Morris, creator of the monthly comic series Pencilsword and half of the Toby and Toby duo responsible for the series 'That is the question' on Radio NZ, was commissioned by UNESCO to illustrate the youth version of the GEM Report. He collaborated closely via Skype and email with a representative at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris to capture the essence of the more than 400-page report in just seven pages.

Introducing Danielle Newton

Danielle NewtonThe new Chair of our Youth Reference Group is Danielle Newton. Danielle is a University of Auckland scholarship recipient and mentor, currently undertaking her third year of study in a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science Conjoint, double majoring in Politics and Sociology and Environmental Science and Geography.

Alongside her studies, Danielle is involved in a range of social justice organisations and youth networks. She was the winner of the District 16 (National) and International Recipient of the Zonta Young Women in Public Affairs Award in 2014, and facilitated the Social Development Focus Group in 2015 and Environment Focus Groups at the 2016 Aotearoa Youth Declaration Conference.

Danielle shared some thoughts with us about her new role. 

What attracted you to the role?

My own passions and beliefs are in full alignment with the core values of UNESCO, with a particular interest in human and indigenous rights, gender equality, disaster risk reduction and education for sustainable development. I firmly believe that international scientific cooperation, integrated with indigenous, cultural frameworks, is key not only to engendering greater scientific and inter-cultural dialogue, but also to the development of global citizenship and building of more equitable and sustainable interactions between humans and the environment. I am wholly committed to building a long-term relationship with the NZ National Commission for UNESCO, actively creating pathways towards the peaceful and sustainable future we want for all people in our region.

What do you hope to bring to the role?

I hope that I can bring some dynamic enthusiasm and critical insight into the discussions of the National Commission, with the aim to be a driving force for change whilst always keeping in mind the core concerns of young people, both in New Zealand and globally.

What youth issues do you see as most important to address in New Zealand and in the world?

In my mind, the devastating environmental reality of today is so profoundly linked to the realities of growing social and gender inequality and the erosion of an empowering democracy, that I am committed to a mobilisation of our spiritual and political resources for transformative change on all of these fronts. Engaging young people for a sustainable future is therefore fundamental to promoting peace, intergenerational equity and the protection of nature.

Introducing Materoa Dodd

Materoa Dodd crop smallWe are delighted to welcome our new Social Sciences Commissioner – Materoa Dodd. Materoa has been a Senior Lecturer specialising in international social trends and governance. She pioneered action research partnerships between iwi, universities and the Harvard Project on Indian Economic development. She has been appointed to Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and has served on tribal, educational, community development and Māori women’s organisations for the past 30 years.

Materoa shared some thoughts with us about her role, as well as the most pressing issues in the social sciences. 

What attracted you to the Commissioner role?

Curiosity about UNESCO and the role of Commissioners in developing a social science action research agenda.

What do you hope to bring to the role?

Practical wisdom, communication skills, organisation, a sense of purpose and humour!

What are the key issues in the social sciences that you would most like to see addressed in New Zealand and around the world?

Tamariki ora – flourishing children, literacy, clean water, fresh air, effective governance, food security, and diversity and freedom of movement.