WHAT IS U3A?
U3A Tawa Inc is part of a loose but nation-wide organization that originated in France then quickly spread to the UK many years ago (see UK video below). It came to New Zealand in 1982.
Broadly, it seeks to provide a low cost social learning focus for people not in full time employment. See https://www.u3a.nz/home.htm
Study (without exams and those dreaded pieces of paper) with learning ‘just for the fun of it’ are the essential hallmarks.
U3A Tawa was established in 1995 with a huge hand-up from Tawa Rotary. Current membership is a healthy 310 mainly centred on Tawa but with significant numbers from Johnsonville, Newlands and Titahi Bay.
U3A is a tongue-in-cheek acronym for ‘University of the Third Age’ reflecting the key notion that our lives are ordinarily lived as:
- Childhood and years of study
- Working and family years
- Post-working years (we are not age-specific).
There are currently over 80 U3A groups in New Zealand each with their own learning philosophies and approaches to developing their ‘curriculum’. Those nearest to actual universities can and do benefit from having guest speakers delivering single lectures to large groups. Those in smaller locations proceed in their own special way as agreed by the members from time to time.
HOW WE DO THINGS AROUND HERE
Here in Tawa we have a pragmatic course-design model where members suggest, devise and run daytime courses; often in members’ homes. Generally, if it sounds interesting U3A Tawa will give it a go assigning a venue as numbers dictate. Sizes range from 60 down to a mere handful.
Many of our larger courses have run for several years and these have been routinely modified in the light of experience. Others have been one-offs e.g. this year’s commemoration of the Wahine Sinking in 1968 (the member-generated documents from which were gratefully received into the Maritime Museum.) Visiting speakers are sometime used but mainly we enjoy being “ourselves alone” and mining the many high level skills we know exist in the local community.
Accordingly our U3A Tawa motto is The Community Educating the Community.
THE MAGIC INGREDIENT – FUN
Every effort goes into making courses relevant, interesting and accurate. However, the overall aim is to make U3A a valued community organization where people get to make new friends and share what they have and know in countless numbers of ways.
WHAT IT COSTS (NOT A LOT)
A current annual membership costs $15 p.a. (about three cups of good coffee).
There are no course fees as such but the costs of any resources and external venues used are shared by the course participants. We have some amazingly supportive bodies in our community and these include several of Tawa’s 23 churches, The Tawa Community Centre, local businesses and Tawa Library.
Any added venue costs are minimal, e.g. we do request $2/person when we need to hire a venue.
BEING A MEMBER
The ideal U3A members is one who attends a few courses and leads or coordinates one or two others. You do not have to be an expert to lead a course - just have an abiding interest in a particular subject. You could, for instance, lead a discussion group or just sing for fun with our excellent choir.
Many people in U3A Tawa are proud to say that we have given them the inclination and opportunity to do expressive things those they always wanted to, but the demands of the first two phases of their lives prevented them. The Third Age is, without doubt, the time to give those aspirations so becoming a highly functioning part of our welcoming and creative suburb.
OUR COURSES AND ACTIVITIES
U3A Tawa currently has around 40 groups taking their own unique approaches to
- Arts and Crafts
- Botany and Gardening
- Cultural (with learning & performing)
- Recreation (including Ramblers)
- Indoor and outdoor Sports
- Health and Welfare
- Current Affairs
- Literary (including film study)
- Travel, Visits, Tours