4. How can TEOs do better for Māori learners?

4.2 Overview of barriers impacting on Māori learner success

As identified across the literature and in relation to the first semester transition process (refer section 3.4), it is the extent to which the tertiary institute facilitates a sense of belonging in a culturally relevant, safe, supportive and familiar environment, and whether learners are able to see themselves and their culture reflected in these institutions, that is key to influencing whether Māori learners engage and remain in tertiary study and experience positive and successful learning experiences, (Hall, 2011; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd 2012 a/b; Mullane, 2010; Tahau-Hodges, 2010; Wiseley, 2009).

Conversely, in terms of critical barriers, it is the presence of institutional structures that contribute to tertiary education environments that are unfamiliar, unwelcoming, culturally foreign, and isolating for Māori learners, that are identified as negatively impacting on Māori learners experiences in tertiary education.

First Nations leaders have pointed to the entrenched structures of the academy as significant barriers to inclusiveness. . . The phrase most often used to describe the necessary change is 'indigenizing the academy', defined by University of Victoria academic Gerald Taiaiake Alfred in his essay 'Warrior scholarship' as “working to change universities so that they become places where the values, principles, and modes of organization and behaviour of our people are respected, and hopefully integrated into, the larger system of structure and processes that make up the university itself'” (King, 2011, p.1).

Key factors underlying this include:

Other barriers commonly listed in the literature relating to learners’ personal circumstances include:

“[Alfred talks of the need] to change universities so that they become places where the values, principles, and modes of organization and behaviour of our people are respected, and [are] integrated into, the larger system of structure and processes that make up the university itself” (King, 2011, p.1).

The focus of the literature is not so much on these barriers themselves. Rather, moving away from a deficit approach, the literature discusses these barriers in terms of how institutions can structure programmes, activities and responses to minimise such barriers to enable Māori learner to fully engage in tertiary education.