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About the Awards

The Prime Minister's Education Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements in early childhood education, primary and secondary schooling.

Current awards status
Now opening 25 February 2019
Awards close 5 April 2019

The Awards focus on the work of groups, teams and partnerships in English, Māori, or Pasifika-medium. They highlight the combined effort needed to achieve improvement, equity and planned innovation.

The Awards will culminate in a national ceremony that profiles finalists and recognises their achievements.

Categories for the Awards represent the dimensions of quality for an education system in any country. Our world-renowned Best Evidence Synthesis has shown that they are critical to the quality.

An additional prize will recognise an area of particular education focus, and will change each year.

Focus prizes for previous years were:

  • 2018: the focus was on outstanding inclusive practices that enable all children and young people with additional learning needs to succeed. 
  • 2017: the focus was on the design of responsive local curriculum, delivered through the innovative use of digital technologies that meets the aspirations of students, their whānau and communities, and achieves improved outcomes for children and young people.
  • 2016: the focus was collaboration along the whole education pathway to improve health, wellbeing, and learning success for every child and young person.
  • 2015: the focus was collaboration that creates Learner-led Pathways from early childhood to schooling.
  • 2014: the focus was Learner-led Pathways through collaboration amongst secondary schools, tertiary providers and employers.


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The Awards focus on the work of groups, teams and partnerships in English, Māori, or Pasifika-medium.

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About the artist

Te Rongo Kirkwood is an award winning artist and her specialty is kiln formed cold-worked glass. Through focusing on this applied art process and medium, Te Rongo has been able to creatively explore inspirational concepts, with influences coming from both her Māori and Scottish heritage. In her glasswork she expresses her love of pattern and form through the use of negative spaces and the combining of opalescent and transparent glasses.

‘The inspiration for the design of these awards has been drawn from the light. Glass made from sand is the perfect medium to transmit the story of light and enlightenment. Its ability to resonate the full spectrum of colour that our eye perceives never fails to thrill me and I love to frame that light with the blackness of obsidian glass. There is a balance between the volcanic black from the creative fire deep in the earth and the life giving light from our sun.’

‘It was also important to me to ground this work in the natural world. I engaged Master Craftsman Mark Lester, Ngati Te Ata, an expert in New Zealand native timbers. The wood for the base of each sculpture has been personally selected by Mark for its beauty, grain and colour, hand-crafted and finished.’
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