Jimmy James Kouratoras
Jimmy James Kouratoras’ expressive paintings explore Māori concepts and spirituality through nature. Born in 1972 in Pukekohe, south of Auckland, Kouratoras is of dual Māori and Greek heritage, ( Tainui – Ngati Tipa & Crete – Village of Kournas ) an identity that has inspired much of his creative works so far.
A self-taught artist, Kouratoras spent 18 years as a scenic painter, creating paint effects and replicating textures for TV and film sets. During that time he also developed his skills painting large-scale background scenery for photographers, designers and directors.
Jimmy Kouratoras continues to evolve the prominence of non-traditional Maori painting and design through his art, with it transitioning the Pacific identity looking into the creation of time and space by the persuasiveness of Atua and inherent ancestors.
Interweaving whakapapa, the expansion of culture through color and story, his surrealist abstract paintings and sculptures cradle the elements of an emotional connection between the human condition and its relationship to the environment; binding with it contemporary images and a narrative of mythologies.
Awhitia Mihaere – Her lived experiences as an Indigenous Traditional Practitioner derive from her whakapapa of Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti, Te Aitanga aa Mahaki, Rongowhakaata, Rangitane, Maniapoto where her grandparents were traditional healers of Rongoā Māori, and Midwives to their whanau, and hāpu.
Hohepa De La Mere brought the ancient codes of IO to Tamaki Makaurau where Awhitia was re-awoken to carry on Rongoā Māori handed down to her by her tīpuna.
She is known as an Indigenous Traditional Practitioner of Romiromi, Koomirimiri and Mirimiri where she has taken Rongoā Maori into many places such as Whare Oranga Manurewa, South Auckland as a Practitioner of Haputanga Lay Advocate, Te Kooti Rangatahi, Hoani Waititi Marae, Orakei Marae , Serco and Prisons as a Maori Director, Senior Cultural Advisor, Cultural Therapist, Kairomiromi – for Prisoners and staff in Aotearoa.
Ministry of Education as a Regional Cultural Advisor–Kaimirimiri- Healing Trauma and Grief / Suicide and Murders in Wairarapa.
Puna Ako – He Waka Hiringa – Healing Strand Indigenous Applied Masters Programe Mangakotukutuku Campus TWOA
Pouako – Rongoā Māori, TWOA Manukau Campus.
(Kairomiromi – Rongoa Services).
Relationship Manager for Restorative Justice, Marae Community Justice Panels, MUMA Kairomiromi – Rongoa Maori inside the service.
Awhitia has also travelled Internationally as the President for Art of Living – Ambassador for Aotearoa – Indigenous Traditional Healing Practitioner – Rongoa Maori – Romiromi – Haputanga- Mirimiri- Koomirimiri.
Te Hira Pere
Te Hira Pere – Te Hira has been a part of the Ao Ako Global Learning team for the last 9 years and has held a range of different positions and portfolios within the organisation.
Te Hira was first appointed as an EA working directly under the CEO of Ao Ako Global Learning. After developing his knowledge and wisdom around Business management and professional education and gaining more experience, he has since moved into much greater responsibilities.
Te Hira currently holds the Business & Innovation portfolio which is a major portfolio within the organisation. He brings with him a range of skills and abilities in business management. He has a passion for changing the pathways into the future for our younger generations.
Te Hira is a pragmatic and holistic thinker, and always thinks outside the square and is committed, and passionate in everything that he engages in. Understanding the importance of intergenerational learning and teaching, Te Hira puts this particular invocation into practice every day.
Te Hira has strong motivation, commitment, and determination for business opportunities and educational success and focuses on theoretical, logical and practical solutions to everyday business and management issues, situations and challenges. Overall Te Hira is a dedicated and highly valued member of the team and has very high standards educationally and professionally of what can and will be possible.
Irene Groeneveld-Dekker was born in the Netherlands and came to Aotearoa in her twenties reconnecting with family that had travelled here in earlier years. She is a voyager at heart and has worked in a number of countries and places as an interpreter, organiser and educator.
Her education in the Netherlands involved languages, arts and (internet) design and communication. She has been co-director of her own business, Koru Websites, for 15 years.
Irene has home educated her children and she is aware that as educators we are always teachers and learners. The concept of ‘ako’ is something close to her heart that her children have shown her all throughout their learning journey together.
Furthermore Irene is trained in First Light Flower Essence New Zealand Therapy under Franchelle Ofsoské-Wyber for the last 8 years. She works as a First Light Flower Essence New Zealand® Practitioner and Medicine Woman and holds diploma’s in Healers, Shamanic and Advanced Shamanic studies.
Dr Rangimarie Rose Pere is the spiritual patron in perpetuity for these essences which are made exclusively from New Zealand flowers, plants and trees. The plants of New Zealand have stepped forward to co-create unique ways to realign oneself to health and well-being in these expanding new times.
Over the last years Irene has linked in with Rose and her teachings of Oneness. As she has dedicated her life to living this truth, she is honoured to be part of the Ao Ako team.