Kaiako: Ray

Ray's story

8/17/23, 1:46 PM

Ray is a kaiako at the DS/TWoA Botany campus. He’s been working at DynaSpeak for twelve years but has been teaching English at TWoA since 2005!   

Ray came to New Zealand as a child with his parents when he was five.  He was born in Pennsylvania – a northeastern state in the USA. He considers himself a Kiwi, yet when we hear Ray speak, many of us will immediately ask - “Where are you from?”  

Ray laughs and admits he is forever explaining why he doesn’t sound like a Kiwi. The funny thing about it is, that the same thing happens when he returns to the USA! There, people also ask the same question, “Where are you from?” He is used to it now and has developed a variety of ways to respond. You might want to ask him to find out more. 

Ray has learnt that a question Kiwis love to ask people with accents is "What do you like most about New Zealand?” His answer would surely please us all – “its beauty, the clean, fresh air, the beaches, lakes and rivers”. Ray loves nature and also enjoys “bush walks” – another strong sign he’s a Kiwi at heart. But there is something else about this country that he finds endearing – it’s the people. The people and their story. “Each person has a story to tell.” Getting to know that story is what Ray loves. 

One of Ray’s stories is about moving from one linguistic culture to another. He moved from the USA to NZ. Both these countries speak English, but Ray’s family soon discovered that even when both countries (USA and NZ) speak the same language, it doesn’t mean communication is guaranteed. This happens because we believe the words of the English language, which we use and share, have the same meanings. Not so! - as Ray’s family discovered. Incidents like this can be a source of embarrassment or humour as in Ray’s case. Imagine what an American would expect when being invited to a Kiwi’s home for supper. What do you think the Kiwis had prepared for their American guests? How do you think the Americans reacted when presented with a Kiwi supper? You can use your dictionary to discover the way the word supper is used in New Zealand and in the USA. You can imagine how Ray’s family and their Kiwi hosts might have reacted! Perhaps you have stories of your own of this type of experience that you can share. 

As a Kaiako, Ray’s favourite thing about his job is seeing tauira achieve their goals. For him, it is not just about passing assessments – it’s about those moments for tauira when “the penny drops”. Those moments when you can read on someone’s face that they have understood something. You see the joy and surprise – that smile that radiates a new sense of confidence… and that is beautiful! 

Another thing Ray likes about his job is that he works at DynaSpeak/TWoA. He talks about the “caring, loving” spirit present here. He sees it in the way people of different cultures find themselves learning English together in a Wananga and also in the way connections between people are created, friendships are formed and the way we get to learn from each other. But that’s not all. He says it’s probably the best place to learn English. Learning English at DynaSpeak/TWoA opens a window to learning New Zealand English, a variety of English reflecting the language, perspectives and culture of the first people here – the Maori – the key to living the Aotearoa/New Zealand experience. 

Ray describes himself as an introvert and likes being by himself. You can see that in his choice of hobbies and past times such as walking, reading, doing quizzes and crosswords. He likes action movies (Batman, Superman, Marvel movies…) and enjoys watching them with his children. Ray also like music. He enjoys listening to gospel music and easy-listening pop classical – particularly Richard Clayderman. But Ray is also a musician. He plays the guitar and is an accomplished pianist. In the past, Ray would lead the DynaSpeak carol singers at our end of year staff Christmas events. It is always a lot of fun to join in singing with others.