Rugby fan and teacher reaps rewards of working in Japan

By Jessica Tyson

While secondary school teachers in Aotearoa have recently been on the cusp of industrial action over low pay and working conditions, moving overseas to teach proves to be a viable solution. One teacher reaping the rewards is Paul Maoate who has been working in Japan as a teacher for more than 20 years.

He currently works as a maths teacher and staff leader at a private school, Tamagawa Academy, in Tokyo Japan.

“The school is from kindergarten to university, and from kindergarten to year 12 we have about 2000 students and in the university, we have about 10,000 students,” says Maoate.

Maote is from Rarotonga and Manihiki and lived in Auckland, New Zealand before moving to Japan.

He is a huge rugby fan and has attended multiple games of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and celebrates the sport with students at the kura.

Student Philpert Ikeokwu, 16, says Maoate is "really supportive and helps us a lot. He guides us since he also loves rugby too so he helps with rugby a lot.”

Due to his love for rugby, Maoate is in two minds about his allegiances to the Japanese and New Zealand team who are succeeding in the competition this year.

“Your pretty much asking which jersey am I going to wear to the game. I think I'd have to wear both. One over each shoulder. New Zealand's always my home but this is my second home,” says Maoate.

Paul Maoate celebrates rugby at his kura. Source: File

Maoate is also one of the founding members of haka group Ngā Hau e Wha, the kapa based in Japan. He likes to bring is passion for performing arts into the classroom.

“Sometimes in my mathematics class I introduce some New Zealand ideas or patterns, Māori patterns for example. And I've also had the opportunity to teach waiata and a little kapa haka to my students.”

Student Kotono Yamamoto, 17, says, “He is a teacher but he's also a musician, He plays the guitar and he writes songs about maths. I think he’s very entertaining and helps us have fun.”

Maoate also has a wife and daughter in Japan. When he first moved to Japan, his salary doubled.

“It's a little tricky. You know, I think, I know teachers are needed back at home in New Zealand. But it’s not about the pay only, it’s an amazing opportunity to experience other cultures, you live in a foreign country and Japan is a really special place."

For that reason, he doesn’t have any plans to return to New Zealand to work.