It is the first time a Cook Islander has been able to achieve the Certificate of Registration as a Teacher while completing the training here in the Cook Islands, rather than New Zealand.
Following a four-year degree programme in Auckland, Puati returned to Rarotonga to fulfil two additional training years as a teacher at Tereora College.
Her teacher registration signals her official membership of the teaching profession.
Registration is one of the main ways that employers, colleagues, learners and the wider community can be assured that a teacher is qualified, safe and competent.
Puati says receiving her registration just seems ‘normal’, despite the fact that she is the first local to have done it.
She says the two years compiling her portfolio was a lot of work, but it’s a relief to finally have it all come together.
“Not that I’m planning to go anywhere, but it means the option is there to go to New Zealand or Australia to teach if I want to.”
Puati says one of the reasons this was able to happen is because Tereora College teaches NCEA, which made her training relatable and similar to teaching at a New Zealand college.
Puati specialised in physical education and health while studying on scholarship at Auckland University, and now teaches health, physical education and dance at Tereora College.
She was bound to return to the Cook Islands for two years under her scholarship, but says that didn’t matter because she wanted to come back and teach here anyway.
Asked what she loves about teaching, Puati says it’s the satisfaction she gets when she sees her students achieving something.
“Teaching is a very challenging and stressful job, but it all pays off once you see your students get the idea of something you’ve been trying to teach, or you give them a grade they didn’t expect.”
Puati says she always loved teaching sports and health, especially as they are important subjects in the Cook Islands.
She says subjects like maths and science will all be important at some time in a student’s life and career, but health is something which is always going to be in their lives.
Puati says she enjoys teaching in the Cook Islands, and finds that students are more respectful here.
In the near future, she will be going to New Zealand to get more professional development in teaching dance, as she never trained as a dance teacher but picked up the role while at Tereora College.
“Yes, I can dance, but transferring that into a teacher’s role is entirely different.”
In the distant future, Puati says she might do more study and go for her Masters degree, but for now she is going to continue teaching in the Cook Islands.
She hopes her registration will show others that achieving this qualification while teaching in the Cook Islands is definitely possible.