Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pacific education expert as keynote

Dr Diane Mara, keynote

A graduate of Victoria and Auckland universities, Diane Mara PhD, M.Litt, BA (Hons), Dip Tchg, Dip TESL has considerable experience as a Pacific educational researcher in the early childhood education sector, tertiary institutions and schools throughout New Zealand. A number of her publications are used in teacher education and sociology of education courses at tertiary level.

Diane graduated with her doctorate in 2007. Her topic was Theories and Narratives: Pacific women in tertiary education and the social construction of ethnic identities in Aotearoa New Zealand. She interviewed twenty Pacific women graduates about their experiences as tertiary students and examined how their narratives revealed the social processes contributing to the construction of their Pacific ethnic identities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Diane has worked as a primary school teacher, a policy analyst, a lecturer and researcher. In recent times she has become a mentor for emerging Pacific researchers. Currently she is a tutor and research project leader in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) Hawkes Bay and also works as an independent research consultant. A member of the Ministerial National Monitoring Group for the Pacific Womens’ Economic Development Plan being implemented by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Diane also serves on a number of boards and advisory groups.

In 1976 Diane was a founding member of PACIFICA Inc (Pacific Womens’ Council) and has served this organisation of Pacific women in New Zealand at many levels. Her four-year term as National President ends in February 2009.

Diane has witnessed first-hand the challenges of settlement experienced by Pacific women and their families since the 1970s. Her work also reflects on the current challenges and issues of identity for New Zealand-born Pacific people in the 21st century.

Diane is of Tahitian descent and keeps in touch with her extended family in French Polynesia. As a sole mother of an autistic teenage son Diane believes she has gained incredible insight into the needs of children and young people with an intellectual disability and the challenges faced by parents and families coping in similar situations to her own.

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