Findings - Ngā Putanga
From our analysis of the elements that contribute to success in our four tauira, despite the differences in context and tribal area, we identified five overarching active principles.
- Toko - ā-iwi, ā-wānanga: institutional and iwi support
- Tikanga, the integration of Māori, and iwi values and protocols
- Pūkenga, the involvement of suitably qualified leadership and staff
- Ako, development of effective teaching and learning strategies
- Huakina, opening up the door
The first is support of programme by both iwi and the institution itself, together with an on-going process of consultation.
The history of each programme’s development varies, and with that the means of engagement with local iwi. E-Learning at Te Wānanga o Raukawa, like all its programmes, arose from an iwi plan for the educational development of its people. “We’re very clear about who we are here for,” the CEO states. In this case the institution is very much part of the iwi.
Toihoukura was able to grow to its reputation as an art school, and weather the economic difficulties of its institution and differences of perspectives about administration because of the way the community embraced it and because of staff and student commitment to community development. The programme leaders, an elder explains, are “community people. They are wound up in their community and that is an advantage of Toihoukura.” While the institution is still in the process of finding how to best align itself with its community, the arts programme has positioned itself as an engaged participant in its community.
Similarly Hōaka Pounamu is perhaps the programme at the University of Canterbury that is most closely aligned with iwi aspirations. “It had collaboration with iwi right from the start,” the Programme Leader states. “In fact it was iwi-driven and led.” Because of the way it is funded the institution has not had to test the degree to which those aspirations are part of its own priorities.
Although the social services programme at NorthTec grew out of a response to local, and particularly Māori needs, the initiatives came from the institution. The programme like the wider institution is still in the process of negotiating its relationships with the various (related but operationally autonomous) iwi that make up Tai Tokerau. “It’s still patchy,” the CEO says, “but we’re beginning to build strong relationship with specific iwi, and the basis for assisting in very strong long term iwi development.”
A high level of iwi support of a programme impacts on the way Māori students perceive their programme, the sense of ease and safety experienced by Māori students and Māori staff, access to Māori content, the programmes’ ability to promote their courses to Māori and recruit students, perceptions of future vocational success, and the institution’s and the programme’s ability to contribute significantly to the capacity building of the community as a whole.
All the institutions expressed a high level of support for the programmes we studied. Despite this acknowledgement of value there are sometimes mismatches between the expectations of the institution and programme in terms of criteria for quality, workloads, and provisions for student support. Clear institutional support of the programme impacts on the programme’s ability to create a cohesive physical context and as well as a pedagogical one, the ease or tension in administrative relationships, and the power of the programme’s staff to affirm support of what the Māori community values.
Obviously, it is easier to ensure consultation with iwi in a tribal wānanga than in a mainstream institution. The number of iwi involved also makes a significant difference. However, active consultation involves iwi in advisory roles, strong visibility of local iwi in staff profile, iwi input into programme content, and observation of local iwi tikanga. These impact on the degree to which iwi “own” the programme and actively support it, respect the institution that offers it, provide resources, and nurture staff.
The second principle is the integration of tikanga Māori into the content and operational style of the programme. It needs to be lived and practised and not just a theoretical construct.
Observance of the tikanga of local iwi was seen as important by all four institutions and by teaching staff in the four programmes. It was seen as vital by iwi and by Māori students for who it was an indicator of the programme’s cultural integrity.
The degree of iwi involvement in each programme clearly impacts on the extent to which tikanga Māori can be implemented. The Wānanga is an iwi institution, and therefore it is seen as important for tikanga Māori to “operate absolutely” throughout its operation. Students are treated as manuhiri and as representatives of their iwi and hapu: the teachers and the distance help centre are willing to talk to students about their families and lives as well as academic problems: “It’s about being Māori and that relationship thing.” They are aware it is the whole person they are educating. The relationship of all learning to tribal development is consistently foregrounded.
In the mainstream institutions, the strength of tikanga Māori related to the relative independence of the programme within the institution, and to the employment of staff for whom such tikanga comes naturally. In Toihoukura and Hōaka Pounamu, the course content is specifically Māori, and predominantly based on local iwi knowledge and practices. For example the students at Toihoukura understand there is more to a moko than just the surface design: “you have to learn the whakapapa of the design,” one explains; “there is a spiritual side to it too.” A former student of Hōaka Pounamu told us: “The course is not just to teach te reo; it’s actually about all the mātauranga, the whakaaro”; it is the Māori constructs of knowledge that give substance to the language learning. The role of kaumatua is crucial: they give the programme a mandate to use iwi history, whakapapa and tikanga.
Tikanga Māori impacts on both content and interactions. Particularly significant is the degree to which those involved in each programme can practice values of aroha, manaakitanga and whanaungatanga. In the sites where Māori had a high degree of autonomy in running the programme, students and teachers worked as a whānau, “where everyone looks after each other and supports the kaupapa”. In the site where the initiative came from the institution these values were taught as were Māori models of wellness and social services, but students felt they were left to work out how to balance Māori values with the mainstream curriculum. At the same time those students who were already working in the field stressed the importance of these practical values for working in Te Tai Tokerau.
Another key aspect of tikanga Māori is affirmation of students’ connection to the community. Te Wānanga actively encourages the students’ families to use the computers and teaches its students how to apply the technology skills they learn to iwi development. Toihoukura actively engages in community projects. Ngāti Porou asked the School to make sculptures for Mt Hikurangi to tell their story. “Toihoukura responded to that,” recounts an elder: “It’s a massive creation on the shoulder of the maunga. What it is doing is translating into pictorial form the history that our people have always known.” Hōaka Pounamu takes students to regional marae to collaboratively develop learning resources with the home people, and its students are very aware their learning is directed to improving schools for Māori students. NorthTec developed its Social Services programmes because of community needs, and it provides a vehicle for those already working in the community to upgrade their qualifications.
In the mainstream sites we found tikanga Māori inclusive of Pākehā. Pākehā students are strongly supported by their Māori peers. Pākehā staff who teach in the Social Services programme are valued particularly for their commitment to Māori perspectives and their willingness to continue to learn.
The third principle involves the skill base of the staff. It addresses the need for strong, clear-visioned and supportive leadership, significant Māori role models, teaching staff who are also prepared to learn and who have professional credibility in their field.
Leadership plays a major role in creating an environment conducive to Māori success. The leader is the shaper of the vision, encourager, facilitator, staff developer, and sometimes buffer or mediator between the institution and the programme. S/he also provides a significant bridge to the community. In the three programmes which are overtly marked as Māori programmes, Māori leadership is seen as fundamental to their successful operation.
All four programmes have strong leaders who forge the direction, head-hunt the best staff they can find and actively support their further development. For example, the programme leader at NorthTec stressed the importance of having staff who have a good reputation in their field. “I think we attract students because of our staff,” she says. “We employ people who are known and respected in the industry, who are local.” She is committed to finding, appointing and upskilling Māori staff, recognising that there is a limited pool of Māori with cultural, professional and academic qualifications, and that those who are qualified are head-hunted by the industry. Staff talk about the support she gives them. “On the institutional level I am not so exposed to institutional demands and difficulties because our manager does all of that for us,” a tutor explains; “she takes the brunt.”
The Wānanga and Hōaka Pounamu also stress the importance of developing staff and helping them gain higher qualifications. “There are a lot of staff who now hold Masters and their development is necessary to our academic survival,” says the CEO of the Wānanga.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Education speaks of the importance of building a cohesive and well qualified group of Māori staff within the College. “If we want to attract Māori,” she said, “we must be very proactive in developing our own talent.”
All the sites recognise that for the programme to be successful for Māori, it needs Māori staff who are strong in their cultural knowledge. They bring expertise in Māori knowledge and tikanga, they provide role models for the students, and they are a drawcard for the community.
Staff and students identify strong professional/industrial knowledge and ‘currency’ in the field as vital qualifications for all teaching staff. Students find it useful when their teachers model the standards of the profession, even showing ways that the profession may be extended. For example, at Toihoukura the teachers in the programme are each outstanding artists and among the leaders of the contemporary Māori art movement in New Zealand. Students come to the programme expecting to work with the top practitioners in the field, to be introduced while they are still students to important galleries and art sponsors and to be supported in their own initial career.
Effective staff are also seen to be active learners. Repeatedly we heard about the value of teachers actively presenting themselves as on-going learners, and continuing to meet the challenges of their field. Where there are Pākehā staff they are valued for their willingness to continuously develop their ability to operate within a Māori context, and to be co-learners with their students.
The fourth principle is the development of a teaching environment and style that allows learning. The interdependence of teaching and learning is stressed by the term ako. Many of the factors we describe here, while they are particularly valued by Māori, are important for the success of all learners.
Both students and teaching staff stressed the importance of respectful and supportive relationships with students. Such relationships involve being accessible, being willing to be a co-learner, recognizing students have different preferences and needs, treating students as people who are making sense of their lives as well as acquiring qualifications, and using the power of the group.
“I see us as very accessible to our students,” a NorthTec teacher states, “and I think that’s what Hei Tauira: Teaching and Learning for Success for Māori in Tertiary Settings 9 makes a difference.” And another at Toihoukura explains: “It is about establishing a relationship with your students and showing you want to know their whakapapa, connecting with their whānau.” When relationships are operating well, a kuia tells us, “there is an enormous amount of trust here”.
Many of the Māori students at all the sites had previous unsatisfactory schooling experiences. A community advisor at Toihoukura states: “Most of our students are Māori students and they haven’t had the greatest time at school, nor have their parents.”
A student confirms: “I only went to school for my art. “I bunked all my other classes.” Students in all four sites talked about how much they value the different environment they are in now, and how they are pleased to be able to reconstruct themselves as successful learners. “I think I have grown through having access to all this academic stuff. I love knowledge,” says a Social Services student.
All the programmes appreciate that students come with varying level of entry skills and needs, and seek to accommodate the differences. Staircasing of courses is an important strategy. Toihoukura and the Social Services are able to fit together a combination of degree, diploma and certificate course to allow multiple pathways, as points of entry and exit.
Hōaka Pounamu draws students with a wide range of Māori language proficiency. It has therefore developed a twelve week language learning programme, Whakapiki Reo, and a bridging summer school. The e-learning at the Wānanga is itself a bridging programme to prepare mature students for tertiary study.
The development of an environment that allows students to support each other and learn from each other also enables varying needs to be met. What students bring to each programme is as important as what their teachers bring. In the three degree or graduate programmes students explain how they bring a tuakana – teina approach to their learning, being willing to pool and share expertise and to actively support each other. “Being here, you get input from every student,” says a Toihoukura student.
“It’s just a matter of approaching anyone with art works that interest you, and they explain how that concept was made.”
Both staff and students talk about the need to recognise different personal styles of learning. For example, a Hōaka Pounamu student explains: “I actually learnt to speak Māori using sign language, because I required muscle memory to make it stick in my head.” The accommodation of student needs does not preclude an insistence on high standards, which characterises all four programmes. This is accompanied by a clear professional or vocational focus and the development of teaching spaces appropriate to the field of studies.
The fifth principle is a proactive and strategic removal of barriers to study. The factors discussed above, of course, together create a platform that facilitates Māori students entry into tertiary study. There is, however, also a need to specifically address the financial, familial, and organisational problems that may interfere with study.
NorthTec’s CEO explains that an important part of the Polytechnic’s strategic direction is to examine the inhibitors to student study and to reduce the barriers: “Some of those inhibitors,” he finds, “are distance, price, educational history through generational groups, and current achievement levels coming from schools.” Part of the solution is the delivery of programmes at regional campuses, and the development of a technology network to connect students in the region to Whangarei. Te Wānanga o Raukawa’s development of an e-learning programme in itself reduces barriers to study: it makes it possible to largely study from home. The Wānanga finds it needs to exercise ingenuity to address the needs of remote rural students, “those in rural Northland or on the East Cape”, who are not reached by telephone internet connections.
Financial hardship is a key deterrent to study. Many of the students are mature students with families. The strongest solution is that provided to the students of Hōaka Pounamu who are released from their school to study on full salary. It represents a policy of strategically funding for change, but such provisions are not freely available to institutions across a range of programmes.
Each of the other sites finds ways to remove some of the financial barriers. The Wānanga has negotiated with a provider for an affordable computer and software package for its students 10 Hei Tauira: Teaching and Learning for Success for Māori in Tertiary Settings and uncapped internet access. NorthTec structures its classes so that social service workers can attend without having to give up their jobs. Toihukura makes its own provisions as a school to deal with financial hardships: “We have provision for helping with power bills, rent and food. And counselling – a few have family problems, if we can’t deal with them we move them on to a professional.” Students affirm the benefit of the support: “When there are exhibitions out of town, they look after you with accommodation and food”: and “They find us accommodation. They treat us like family. If someone is down, we all pick them up.”
The provision of student support services, and the allowance of flexibility in deadlines helps bridge the gap between students’ earlier education and the demands of their course work. Students value, and are affirmed by, strongly human interface with the programme at the time of application and entry. Pōwhiri are important because they demonstrate commitment of the programme to Māori values, provide connection with iwi, and, from the point of view of Māori students, affirm the importance of personal relationships. Livein inductions, preferably in a marae context are particularly effective because students can get to know each other as more than academic classmates.
Graduation plays a significant part in success. In the four sites it is a big event, involving extended whānau and community. It serves as celebration of graduands’ success, as promotion to future students, and as a role model for others in the community. A number of students explained they entered a programme because of a successful course of study by another member of the family.
Researchers - Janinka Greenwood & Lynne-Harata Te Aika, College of Education, University of Canterbury
This work is published under the Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike Licence (BY-NC-SA). Under this licence you are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work as well as to remix, tweak, and build upon this work noncommercially, as long as you credit the author/s and license your new creations under the identical terms.