I wonder how many iwi have been asked whether they want to be partners in education? Perhaps someone has just presumed they want to, or should do, and therefore created a “partnership” thrust through school, by which teachers must adhere. Ko te kai a te rangatira he kōrero?
NZC openly encourages schools to engage with families, whānau, and communities. TMOA encourages engagement between te kura, te whānau, te hapū, te iwi me te hapori of the student. Where’s the bit that emphasises what iwi want? What iwi stand to gain by working alongside schools? Is there a partnership? Koha mai, koha atu?
Why do schools find it difficult to engage with iwi? Some schools don’t know where to start looking. What about schools that are located in pan-tribal areas? What should they do?
My perception is that not all iwi see education as a priority; many individuals in iwi have gained very little from education, from schools, and have limited or no experience at tertiary level. Why would they want to re-engage in a system that continues to fail their mokopuna, as it did them?
I also see other iwi who do want to engage, but don’t know how, or what that engagement might look like. They can hardly just turn up at a range of schools and knock on the door.
There’s presently a big focus on lifting achievement for priority learners in all sectors. Ka pai. And, a strong suggestion that schools should “engage” with iwi and communities of Māori learners. Ka pai hoki. But, how do we do this? Who’s got the missing piece of the puzzle?
Schools want and need iwi participation, iwi want and need high standards of achievement for their children, but for many, the two are miles part.
Nā tō rourou, nā tāku rourou, ka ora te iwi?
Who’s calling the shots? Who’s controlling the resource? Who has the aspiration? Is it a reality in the present parameters?
Deanne Thomas is Kaihautū Māori for CORE Education helping develop capacity and professional capability of the CORE Māori medium facilitators and providing a cultural base and network for all Māori facilitators at CORE. After fifteen years in the classroom, De spent 8 years a Māori adviser and curriculum facilitator for Massey University. In 1999, she established Tihi Ltd, an award-winning education and arts management company, and in 2008, she started Kōtaretū, another education focused company. De was a member of Te Ohu Matua, the reference group for the Ministry of Education in the development of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, and is presently in the National Curriculum Advisory Group. She has also been part of the continued development of the learning area Hangarau since its first draft in 1995.