World Teachers’ Day, held annually on 5 October since 1994, commemorates teachers’ organizations worldwide. Its aim is to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.

Education International (EI – the global union federation that represents education professionals worldwide) and other education unions around the world have launched the year of action “Unite for Quality Education” in New York and Paris, while NZEI members gathered at dawn on Saturday 5 October 2013, the official World Teachers Day in the northern hemisphere.

Rakau Korero

WTD-2013-AvatarThe talking stick or rakau korero is a stick used by orators on the marae, and can be passed from one speaker to another.  NZEI Te Riu Roa commissioned a rakau korero, known as Te Amokura, to represent the transmission of learning that is at the heart of quality public education.

The rakau has carvings on it representing Nga Hau e Wha – the four winds  – because this rakau will be travelling across this world. Its korero or message will be protected by the eastern, western, southern and northern winds. Te Amokura was presented at NZEI’s Annual Conference to the President of Education International, Susan Hopgood, who took it to New York as part of the launch of a global year of action promoting quality public education on October 4th. During the “Unite for Education” year, Te Amokura was be passed around different countries and events by other education unions. It will be returning ultimately to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Te Amokura means a “sentinel”  – something carrying a message out to the world.  It comes from the name for the tail feathers of the globe-trotting seabird, the red-tailed tropic bird.  Te Amokura was carved by Colin Te Puhanui Tihi, of Te Arawa/Tuhoe, from totara.  Colin was born and grew up in Rotorua and graduated from Te Puia (formerly the NZ Arts and Craft Institute) in 1992.  He has exhibited with other artists and carvers both locally and internationally, and  is currently studying towards his degree in visual arts at Toimairangi, the arts faculty of Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Heretaunga (Hastings, Hawkes Bay).


The tekoteko, Te Amokura, which was used on World Teachers Day 2013 to represent carrying the message of teaching quality to the four winds, has continued its voyage around the world. After being taken to the United Nations in New York last year, in February 2014 it made its way to Education International’s orgnet meeting of union organisers in Brussels.