Learning Media Te Pou Taki Kōrero traces its unique heritage back to the establishment, in 1907, of the School Journal. This was the first time that New Zealand school children were able to read a school book that was relevant to their needs and interests and was published in their own country.
The School Journal was the only New Zealand school publication for children until 1939, when the Director of Education Dr. Clarence Beeby established the School Publications Branch in the Department of Education (known today as the Ministry of Education). His vision? To provide a vehicle to express the New Zealand identity. This initiative gave a home to the School Journal as well as a new series of curriculum-related school bulletins and other educational materials.
“School Pubs”: a hothouse of creativity
The culture of Learning Media is born out of the School Publications Branch – or “School Pubs”, as it was affectionately known. It was a hothouse for an extraordinary array of writers and artists. Many of these people went on to become household names in New Zealand and, in some cases, internationally.
Some worked on the staff, including the celebrated writers James K. Baxter, Peter Bland, Alistair Campbell, Jack Lasenby, Diana Noonan, and Roger Hall. Others were nurtured as contributors to the School Journal, including such luminaries as Joy Cowley, Margaret Mahy, Witi Ihimaera, Patricia Grace, Denis Glover, Sam Hunt, and Tom Scott. Illustrators and photographers, too, were nurtured, including Dick Frizzell, Gavin Bishop, and Nic Bishop. Eminent scholars Dame Marie Clay, J.C. Beaglehole, and Monte Holcroft are also among the Branch’s authors.
The Branch was the subject of a UNESCO report in the late 1950s and featured in a major Asia–Pacific Programme of Educational Innovation for Development regional seminar in 1983. Staff were regularly called on to fill consultancies in book development in Asia and the Pacific in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
The Branch also began to publish documents such as school syllabuses and the Education Gazette. Its range of educational materials gradually expanded, a trend that was given impetus in the 1980s. Publishing in te reo Māori began in 1960, and publishing in Pacific languages became well established during this time. Audio and visual production units dedicated to their own media were also established. In 1989, when a major reform of education administration took effect, these units were absorbed, with School Publications, into the Learning Media Group of the newly formed Ministry of Education – ending 50 years of the School Publications Branch.
Learning Media Te Pou Taki Kōrero was formed as a Crown-owned company in 1993. Learning Media now needed to not only produce sound educational materials but to operate as a profitable, competitive business. Learning Media adapted to meet these challenges, developing sound literary and educational materials and services to support the government’s National Education Guidelines, as well as developing and marketing educational materials for international markets, including the United States, Canada, and Singapore.
Today, Learning Media is a state-owned enterprise with a wealth of expertise and experience. Our high-level concept development and innovative approaches inform products and services in a great variety of areas that include literacy and numeracy, Māori and Pasifika education, digital learning, health education, and professional development. In 2011, Learning Media acquired the business of digital development company, CWA New Media.
Despite significant changes in the social and educational climate during the past hundred years, Learning Media has continually strived for excellence – a motivation that underpins all of our work. This motivation is rooted in our belief that educators and learners of all ages, and from all backgrounds, deserve the very best.