Māori design and tertiary education
This research project led by Otago Polytechnic’s Caroline McCaw, introduces 4 strategies for incorporating Te Ao Māori and Māori design principles into the teaching programmes of tertiary design educators.
Caroline McCaw – Otago Polytechnic, Associate Professor Sarah Wakes – University of Otago and Tracey Gardner
Date completed: May 2012
In this project, the team set out to address a gap in documented research that specifically focuses on or about a kaupapa Māori design process. The main aim was to identify and collate specific methods, practices and strategies for use in tertiary design teaching and disseminate important ideas relating to te Ao Māori and Māori design principles, practices and processes to tertiary design educators.
Thematic narratives based on experience and grounded in kaupapa Māori practice, were developed through 5 case studies of Māori designers and design educators. These have informed the development of a four-strategy model for teaching design within a New Zealand context.
Strategy 1: Māori educators introducing Māori content
This strategy allows both individual mentoring as well as the introduction of broader examples of cultural content.
Strategy 2: A well-resourced, integrated approach
This strategy is about building bridges through advocates for cultural themes and practices.
Strategy 3: Putting culture and identity in the centre
An ongoing process of modelling cultural values through teaching practices.
Strategy 4: Regeneration, revitalisation, innovation and future focus
A strategy that recognises that there needs to be an acknowledgement of the value of culture within design and that it is looking forward and is adaptable.
Challenges, Opportunities and Risks
A major challenge identified for non-Māori design programmes is to understand and undertake systemic changes in order to allow cultural values to be in the centre, and not an add-on.
This is however an opportunity to develop design curricula and teaching methods that reflect the unique cultural environment of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Risks include the need to recognise culture as continually changing and responding to change.
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