I recently had the privilege of sharing some insights into what culturally responsive practice looks like in Aotearoa from a Māori-educator perspective with the Howick Pakuranga Principals' Association eLearning Network in Auckland. The majority of participants were familiar with the Ministry of Education’s starter kete of Māori education strategies such as, Ka Hikitia — Accelerating Success 2013-2017, and curriculum resources like, He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora. I chose to flesh out the cultural competencies discussed in Tātaiako using anecdotal evidence as examples.
I chose not to take the normal approach of using guest speaker stories, PowerPoints, handouts, and two-minute discuss-amongst-yourselves-and-report-back-to-the-group style, as these are only surface-scratching stuff. As the educator of this present moment, I’m totally about being a better person than yesterday and fulfilling one’s personal legend (perhaps even helping you discover your own?). I like to make these cultural competencies more tangible, mash it up a bit with some online resources and practical ways to help integrate the principles in your classroom and kura.
Hands down, the most important thing in te ao Māori is our connection with each other, our whenua, and our universe. What makes us a great teacher is how we can build and maintain a strong, respectful relationship with our learners, their whānau, hapū, iwi and everyone in between. Get some ice-breaker stuff happening in your learning space, use a Web 2.0 tool or an app like Animoto to create a digital mihi, such as the one below.
The hub of all cultural locatedness is our marae. Whenever I go onto a marae for the first time, it is my responsibility to find out who its hapū and iwi are. I learn the names of the prominent landmarks connected with that marae like its mountain, waters, buildings, and also get a basic understanding of their protocols.
- Do you have a connection with your local marae?
- Are you able to help your Māori learners if they don’t know their own marae?
One of my definite go-to websites is Māori Maps — a bilingual website that allows you to connect with the ancestral marae around Aotearoa using the Google Maps screen or the Quick Search tabs, and useful for a whole range of identity and culture related activities.
28th Māori Battalion is another fabulous website to support teaching and learning programmes of local history with engaging contexts and especially handy for Anzac celebrations and learning units.
Māori learners succeed when they can see their identity, language, and culture in all contexts and in all learning spaces. One simple and effective example of showing your commitment to Tātaiako is demonstrated in most of our local libraries — bilingual signs. Both of these websites have some great background information, tips, and translations you could use to reo up your school:
Communication, problem solving, and innovation. Whānau engagement is perhaps one of the most challenging priorities for change for a lot of schools, whether English or Māori medium. The Ruia: School-whānau partnerships for Māori learners’ success website has a plethora of information using videos, case studies, inquiry cycles, reviews and more to help strengthen your competency in this area.
Our values of integrity, trust, sincerity, and equity are universal. One indisputable, essential aspect of manaakitanga not discussed in Tātaiako, however, is kai! You can never go wrong with a feed and the gift of sharing food. It’s a commonly known fact that a good professional learning and development conference is remembered by what you learnt, but a great one is remembered by what you ate. Check out this interactive housed on the Te Kete Ipurangi website: Let’s make a hāngī. Get your learners to make their own kai interactive and share it on the school website.
Give these a go, share your experiences, and keep on keeping on, as I know it can be overwhelming at times. But inevitably, you’ll be the better teacher for it and, more importantly, for our tamariki. And, like one of my most formidable leaders, Princess Te Puea Hērangi quipped:
“Mehemea ka moemoeā ahau, ko ahau anake.
Mehemea ka moemoeā tātou, ka taea e tātou.”
If I dream, I dream alone.
If we all dream together, we can succeed.
Kia ora rā tātou katoa!
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