Tamahere students at UN


Four students from Tamahere’s Montessori School have represented New Zealand at a United Nations meeting in Italy.

The 10- and 11-year-old students, Avera Ngawaka, Aengus Moore, Aidan Smith and Husain Mehdi, took part in the Montessori Model United Nations – an international conference hosted at the UN Rome headquarters in May.

Tamahere’s Montessori School students at the United Nations

The four Kiwi primary school pupils were called on to represent UN member, Turkey, at the event, requiring dedicated research on the country’s government and background to fulfill their roles.

Avera researched the rights of people to self-determination, Aidan covered the convention on biological diversity, Aengus worked on protection of the global climate for present and future generations of humankind, and Husain studied the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

“The Montessori Model United Nations is an international conference where we are hosted at actual UN headquarters and consider issues that are on the table at UN meetings,” said Waikato Montessori Education Centre head Diana Bhana.

“I believe it is very unique for the UN to invite Model UN programmes to actually sit in their ambassadors’ chairs and have a real UN delegate participate at the conference.

“We feel very honoured to have had this experience and we know it is totally due to our Montessori heritage.”

The Montessori movement’s founder, Dr Maria Montessori, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times and was involved in the Declaration of Human Rights and Children’s Rights, adopted by the UN.

The Montessori United Nations conference in progress

Montessori has world peace as a philosophical outcome of its schooling.

Bhana said it was the first time the Newell Rd school’s students had attended the Model UN conference but the school hoped to make it an annual event.

To prepare for the conference, the four pupils researched the UN and its work, and spent a year preparing their position papers and speeches.

As well, for the students to attend, two teachers were required to undertake special training for the event, which included travelling to Syndey in early 2018.

7 thoughts on “Tamahere students at UN

  • June 25, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    For a democratic, peace loving and equal opportunity country such as New Zealand, to go and represent an oppressive, dictatorial, imperialistic, provocative , committing atrocities against innocent people, country such as Turkey is beyond comprehension. Well put “Montessori has world peace as a philosophical outcome” How does that fit with the barbaric and provocative Turkish approach to neighbouring countries. Obviously there was no research done by the head of school or ignorant of history, before deciding on the subject. Highly disappointing. Except if the whole item was a PR exercise.

    • June 25, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      They’re kids, Harry, kids. Perhaps you should pick more grown-up targets to practice your virtue signalling.

      • June 26, 2019 at 3:44 pm

        They represent our country and have been given a subject to work on. NOTHING to do with children. Never implied anything like that. Proud to have our children represent us internationally.
        Perhaps you should do your own homework about Turkey and the we talk about it. Turkey is one of the few countries that abuse human rights to the nth degree. Worse than China and other middle east countries.

        As a matter of principle I would not associate New Zealand’s name with Turkey, but other would…

    • June 26, 2019 at 10:18 am

      Hi Harry,
      All countries are represented at the UN and so are also represented at the MMUN. The children represent a country which is not their own so that they can research and learn about other countries, cultures, the issues they face, their stance on different topics. As we had 4 delegates, there were a limited number of countries that we were able to represent. The Head of School also looked at the different committees that those countries were on and the topics when choosing. She wanted the learning to be meaningful to the children who had chosen to go and to follow their personal interests. She had a list of preferences, then got up at 1 am when the invite opened. She was not able to secure her first choice, but did get Turkey. The children learned that there are many aspects of Turkey’s policies that they didn’t agree with and also how lucky we are to live in New Zealand. The other part of the learning was to represent a country whose views/policies you don’t agree with. For instance, Turkey is using a lot of coal-powered electricity to help their economy expand. Aengus needed to defend that stance, even though he opposes it. The learning for the children was phenomenal and well-worth the effort it took us to get there.

      • June 26, 2019 at 8:14 pm

        You have answered the question yourself. We got Turkey because NO other civilised country will represent that country. It a country that has no respect to human rights. That is why nearly ALL European countries (27 of them) oppose Turkeys entry to the European union. However we have countries far away such as ours, who live in their own cocoon oblivious of the real facts.
        I do not dispute the children’s experience. That’s something to be treasured.

        What I am concerned is associating New Zealand’s name to Dictatorial countries and trying to find an excuse to do so.

    • June 26, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read about our experience. It is for exactly the reasons you have raised that the UN exists, and Turkey is a founding member of the UN. The UN provides a forum where countries can come together to discuss and try to resolve issues in a peaceful way. There was quite a decision making process of topics and associated countries that we did consider before participating. The point of us researching a country other than own is to find out how people live when they do not enjoy the opportunities we have here in NZ. We can do this without necessarily agreeing with the position or actions of that country, we come to understand what the issues are and become informed of different perspectives. It is part of learning about diplomacy and how to find solutions and reach consensus. Peace in our world relies on today’s children learning these skills, the more people in the world who are capable of looking at issues from another perspective, the more likely we are to avoid ongoing military conflict in the future. That is the intent of our involvement, to extend children’s thinking and to find processes that will be useful in their future as leaders of the next generation. It has been an extremely positive experience and definitely not a PR exercise.
      We understand that the UN has limitations, but it is what we have in the world today and children learning more about this in a proactive way should be celebrated.

      • June 26, 2019 at 8:05 pm

        Thanks for that Diane. We have to make a divide between children and certain countries. Given that Turkey is a founding member of UN HOWEVER Turkey Never follows UN resolutions. Its basically, I am a member but I can do whatever I like and can abuse anyone I like…. No further comment


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