• Home
  • Programme
  • Activator Speakers
  • Keynote Speakers
  • MCs
  • Theme
  • Sign Language
  • Contact us

Kia tū kahikatea |Stand together, like kahikatea


uLearn23 is a call to action for educators to stand together like kahikatea – our metaphor for strength and unity of purpose.

The uLearn23 theme ‘Kia tū kahikatea!’ challenges us to collaborate as delegates and colleagues to address issues of inequity for learners.

The kahikatea is a powerful metaphor for uLearn. The tallest tree in Aotearoa, it can live for 600 years in the domain of Tānemahuta. It represents stability and sustainability in numbers.

Kahikatea thrive together in groves sheltering other trees like pūriri and kahikātoa. They provide materials for tools, whare and waka, they are canopies for flora and fauna to thrive in. Their roots intertwine in a network which sustains and feeds the grove.

The call to collaborate prompts us to consider ways we can co-design to support equitable outcomes in our learning communities, recognise those allies who can help us to achieve them, and respond to others who seek our support as allies.

uLearn23 brings together diverse leaders and groups who utilise the resources at hand to create local solutions. As we are inspired by the stories, initiatives and solutions brought to the stage, we are asked to consider our roles in challenging inequity – as allies, as ākonga, as whānau, as āinga, as kaiako, kura, school and centre leaders, as funders, as change agents, as civic leaders, and as visionaries. uLearn gives delegates a place and time to ask – What role will I play? How will I get there, and who will be with me?


Nō reira me mihi ki ngā whenua o Waikato, o Te Ākitai o Waiohua hoki

For uLearn this year we gather with pride in Manukau – the centre of a diverse region, rich in innovation, leadership and wayfinding. We acknowledge the lands of Te Ākitai Waiohua and Waikato iwi.

The experiences of local Māori and Pacific leaders show us what transformational work looks and feels like, and the opportunities we have to support, participate in, or lead equitable outcomes in education in local, national and global settings.Aotearoa has experienced adversity, our own ‘whakapae ururoa,’ so uLearn23 is an invitation to learn about recent and not so recent challenges being addressed by communities along Great South Road (our conference location), in the surrounding communities, and right across Aotearoa.

With an array of Kaihautū/Keynote speakers, workshops and presentations, uLearn23 equips delegates with networks, challenges and the tools to use in our multiple journeys towards equity for our communities. By the end of the conference we will be reinvigorated and have a stronger sense of unity, motivation and understanding of what’s ahead, and how we will  move forward together.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari, he toa takitini | My strength is not the strength of one, it is the strength of many.

A fai ia vave e o’o i lou va’a alo na’o oe. Ai fia tulimamao lou va’a i le taunu’uga tatou aloalo fa’atasi | If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together.

Ko koutou, ko mātou, ko tātou!

Supporting themes

Ngā pūtake o ngā raruraru me ngā ara ora |The roots of inequity and solutions

The drive to achieve equity must be based on a shared vision, quality information and a willingness to support community-led solutions. The intertwining of the kahikatea roots establish the strength of the vision and its resilience in challenging environments.

Key ideas

  • Being led by the vision of the community.
  • Sourcing quality data to understand the effects of inequity in communities who have been marginalised.  
  • Revealing/surfacing the narratives that undermine equity.
  • How community-led solutions create effective collaboration.
  • Understanding and scaling solutions that work.
  • Identifying the conditions for success: leadership, team building, community-led vision, resourcing, models of successful power sharing.
  • Moving from talking about collaboration to address challenges, to building enduring community partnerships, like the kahikātoa that is enduring.

Mahi tahi | Collaboration

The motivation to stand together with our team is based on knowing the value of a shared vision, obligations and a willingness to take action and help out where possible.

Key ideas

  • Innovating together.
  • Having a shared vision of what equity looks like in your community.
  • Understanding the tools required to work together under the common vision.
  • Keeping everyone on track, getting back on track, or adjusting the work as needed.
  • Sharing power and decision making.

Awhi mai awhi atu | Being an ally

Building allyships is rewarding work. It takes courage to build new relationships and to work in new settings while joining the many who paved the way for the current challenges to be understood and addressed.

Key ideas

  • Engaging with all voices.
  • Navigating unfamiliar waters.
  • Commiting to mana ōrite – equitable outcomes.
  • Engendering hope.
  • Being intentionally inclusive.
  • Addressing fear and challenges as a collective.
  • Keeping the vision alive within communities who stand strong and tall together.

Taku tūranga ake | My role  

When we stand together to achieve a common goal, we take different roles. While our roles can change over time, it’s important to understand how team members and leaders can work together, while appreciating the unique knowledge and skills we each bring.

Key ideas

  • My role and strengths in the collective effort.
  • Reflecting on my own values and narratives.
  • Working with a team to enact change.
  • Understanding the leadership that exists in our communities.
  • Engaging as a team with all parts of our community.