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Engagement hui promotes research in Māori teaching

Friday 16 December 2016 2:18pm

Participants in a recent Poutama Ara Rau engagement hui. Back row from left: Marcelle Wharerau, Moana Theodore, Lisa Kremer, Tukohirangi Pini, Jacinta Beckwith and James Green. Middle row from left: Jeanette Wikaira, Shawnee Brausch, Jovan Mokaraka-Harris, Te Rina Raureti, Callum Riddle and Eruera Tarena (Te Tapuae o Rehua). Front row from left: Jacinta Ruru, Fiona Johnson-Bell (New Zealand Universities), Katharina Ruckstuhl, Josie Keelan (Unitec), Karyn Paringatai, Veraneeca Taiepa (Unitec) and Joe Te Rito (Ako Aotearoa). Photo: Sharron Bennett.

A concerted effort to include mātauranga Māori and Māori pedagogies could transform University of Otago teaching and learning in the future.

The Otago Research Theme Poutama Ara Rau held an engagement hui recently, bringing together for the first time the group’s Otago staff and postgraduate students and some of its key national advisers to share initial research and thinking about the place of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and Māori teaching methods in tertiary institutions.

Poutama Ara Rau was launched earlier this year, and is led by the University’s three most recent Prime Minister's Supreme Teaching Award recipients, Professor Jacinta Ruru of Law (2016 winner), Associate Professor Suzanne Pitama of the Christchurch campus (2015 winner) and Dr Karyn Paringatai of Te Tumu - School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies (2014 winner).

It aims to expand the quality of Māori learning and teaching theory and methods for tertiary teaching; enhance access to ako (a concept in which the teacher also learns from the student) in a tertiary context including technological devices, and make Otago nationally and internationally recognised for its research in Māori learning and teaching methods.

"It would certainly be great to have more identifiable Māori places on campus for all of us to research, teach and learn in a Māori way."

Professor Ruru says the hui was hugely inspiring.

“It created the space to reflect on how work in some lecture theatres in recent years is leading to more culturally responsive teaching practices, but also that there is very little research available that explores why and how this is being done at a tertiary level.

“We were really honoured to have some of our guest external advisers with us, including Josie Keelan, Dean of Teaching and Learning, Mātauranga Māori, Unitec Institute of Technology, where an inspiring Māori Success Strategy has been developed to embed and make visible mātauranga Māori throughout everything that is done at Unitec. Josie emphasised the new commitment at Unitec where “mātauranga Māori is in every space we move”.”

Professor Ruru says that individually, many of Otago’s lecturers value Māori knowledge and the experiences that Māori students bring with them into the classroom.

“Without a central Māori hub such as a wharenui that nearly all other tertiary institutions have, we have to work extra hard to comprehensively think about what is it that we are doing to respect Māori knowledge and Māori practices for learning and teaching. It would certainly be great to have more identifiable Māori places on campus for all of us to research, teach and learn in a Māori way.”

She says it is important that teachers value the depth of experience and knowledge that Māori students themselves bring with them, understand why it is that they have chosen to be in their lecture room, know and understand New Zealand’s history and the importance and relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi settlements for creating a reconciled future which is important for all areas of study, learn some te reo Māori, strongly support the increase in more Māori general and academic staff, support the work of the kaiawhina within the departments, and to always look for ways to support the implementation of Otago’s Māori Strategic Framework.

“Anyone who is interested in the research of how mātauranga Māori can help transform tertiary teaching is more than welcome to get in touch with one of the co-directors of the Theme.”

To learn more about Poutama Ara Rau:

Visit the website
Or contact the Theme's Co-Directors or the Steering Committee.