I recently read a blog post by Wharehoka Wano and watched Alex Hotere-Barnes on EDtalks. Both of these discussions centred on Māori/Pākehā dynamics within education settings. Reading Wharehoka’s blog and listening to Alex got me thinking about an experience I had a few weeks ago when I was in Whakatāne as part of the LEARNZ Waka Voyaging virtual field trip.
End of the pōhiri on Moutohorā
An honest appraisal
I don’t mind admitting that throughout the course of my life to date I have internalised some of those ‘white privilege’ examples that Wharehoka refers to in his blog. A lack of empathy and misunderstanding about Māori culture and its place in our society has surely led to a fair amount of ‘Pākehā paralysis’ on my part throughout my involvement in education.
On the other hand, I did go to a primary school that had a lot of Māori culture within its curriculum. We learned many waiata along with their actions, how to pronounce words properly, some vocabulary and phrases, different games, as well as incorporating Māori culture and history into artwork and so on. Although this was now many years ago, I can certainly credit those formal experiences with grounding me enough to at least reflect on and question my own beliefs and assumptions around issues of ‘privilege’.
What a pity this great start in Māori education didn’t extend beyond primary school!