4. How can TEOs do better for Māori learners?

4.3 Enabling culturally appropriate and relevant learning environments

“…at the heart of successful education for all Māori learners is the provision of a culturally responsive environment” (Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a, p.19).

There is a strong understanding across the literature that Māori learners are more likely to engage and persist with their studies when they feel that they are a central part of the learning environment, and that they belong. This is particularly important for learners who have experienced being on the margins educationally and socially. Māori learners are more likely to feel a part of the institution if it is culturally relevant to them (Phillips and Mitchell, 2010; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a; Tahau-Hodges, 2010).

The construct of whānaungatanga is intrinsic to a sense of belonging in the tertiary education environment.

Central to this is the need for the institution and staff to understand each learner’s current and changing needs and aspirations so that they may be appropriately guided and supported on an ongoing basis (Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a; Phillips and Mitchell, 2010).

The construct of whānaungatanga is intrinsic to a sense of belonging in the tertiary education environment (Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a). The development of positive relationships and connections and feeling a key part of a collective, inclusive learning community is important, as is feeling cared about and supported to succeed.

Time and time again the student voice coming through in the research refers to the difference a whānau-like atmosphere makes and the sense of belonging this instils (Akroyd, Knox, and Sloane, 2009; Marshall, Baldwin and Peach, 2008; Mullane, 2010; Phillips and Mitchell, 2010).

Moreover, a study undertaken by Heathrose Research Ltd (2011) observed that workplace training environments with above average completion or retention rates had a strong sense of family and whānau culture and Māori leadership present.

Across the literature a number of inter-related structural elements are identified as contributing to effective learning environments that are supportive, welcoming and culturally relevant for Māori learners. These are discussed throughout the remainder of this section and are presented in the diagram below.

Effective teaching and learning environments

The quality of the teaching and the effectiveness of the learning environments facilitated by teaching staff is identified as crucial to Māori learner engagement in tertiary education.

The quality of the teaching and the effectiveness of the learning environments facilitated by teaching staff is identified as crucial to Māori learner engagement in tertiary education.

This is also well recognised in the secondary school sector. As is identified in the Best Evidence Synthesis, Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schools, “high achievement for diverse groups of learners is an outcome of the skilled and cumulative pedagogical actions of teaching in creating and optimising an effective learning environment … Quality teaching influences the quality of student participation, involvement and achievement (including social outcomes)” (Alton-Lee, 2003, p.1–2).

In the tertiary education literature, several core elements are identified as important to Māori learner success within this area of focus:

The nature of teacher relationships and interactions with learners is overwhelmingly identified as central to fostering a sense of belonging, safety and trust, and thus whether or not learners feel comfortable and supported to engage in the learning environment.

Of note, several factors within these elements also feature in Te Kotahitanga Effective Teaching Profile developed by Bishop and Berryman (2009) (after extensive engagement with Māori secondary school students, their whānau, school principals and teachers), including the importance of relationships and interactions between teachers and students, and teachers having a positive, non-deficit view of Māori students. A specific and strong focus in the tertiary education literature relates to teachers’ facilitation of collective student relationships and relationships with whānau.

Effective teacher relationships and interactions

The nature of teacher relationships and interactions with learners is overwhelmingly identified as central to fostering a sense of belonging, safety and trust, and thus whether or not learners feel comfortable and supported to engage in the learning environment (Forsyth, 2007; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a; Mullane, 2010; Akroyd, Knox and Sloane, 2009; White et al., 2009; Wiseley, 2009).

For example, Radloff and Coates (2011) note that the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement12  identified a key relationship between the support provided to Māori and Pasifika students and the frequency of high-quality interactions with academic staff and positive student outcomes (including satisfaction with their educational experience, departure intentions, and the general development of learning skills).

The facilitation of peer relationships, and relationships with learners’ parents and whānau are also important in supporting students’ learning.

Teacher – student relationships

In examining retention attitudes and behaviours from a survey undertaken with students from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Wiseley (2009) found a positive link between retention and students having regular and meaningful interactions with teachers. This was also a similar finding of research in the secondary schooling area by Bishop et al. (2009), who “found that the quality of teacher-student relationships and interactions was a central factor in improving Māori student achievement” (p.32).

Positive relationships, based on respect, reciprocity, and trust, are identified as essential to effective learning and illustrate the importance of togetherness and the cooperative nature of learning. Mullane (2010) sees effective teachers as replicating a whānau context. One student in Mullane’s study is quoted as stating: “creating a whānau feeling within that group can kind of make them work well together ... they need to feel part of a whānau-type setting where they can be comfortable and free to express any difficulties or to ask questions” (p.70).

Whānau values and concepts such as manaakitanga, aroha, and awhina underpin effective relationships. Students are supported to thrive if shown that they are cared for and valued, and that teachers believe in their ability to suceed and are there to support them to achieve their goals (White et al., 2009).

Essential to the teacher-learner relationship is the concept of AKO – to both teach and learn.

Year one learners in Forsyth’s study undertaking the Mātauranga Māori class of the first-year Bachelor of Education and who experienced teaching practice conducted under the principles of Ata (with care and deliberation)13  “overwhelmingly related that a sense of belonging in class was what made their learning experiences exceptional, along with feeling comfortable and relaxed in the environment” (Forsyth, 2007, p.77). Students “felt [that] respectful relationships within the teaching/learning environment were perhaps the most important factor in allowing them to feel valued, accepted, and welcome (p.91).”

Essential to the teacher-learner relationship is the concept of AKO – to both teach and learn. Valuing learners for who they are, and recognising their contribution to learning through the exploration and sharing of diverse life experiences and knowledge, contributes to learners’ sense of relevance, identity and centrality in the learning environment (Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd 2012a/b; Mullane, 2010; Phillips and Mitchell, 2010; Wiseley, 2009).

This was also recognised in Greenwood and Te Aika’s (2008) examination of four high-performing programmes across different New Zealand tertiary institutions. Strong teacher-student “relationships involved being accessible, being willing to be a co-learner, recognising that students have different preferences and needs, treating students as people who are making sense of their lives as well as acquiring qualifications, and using the power of the group” (p.91).

Facilitating collective peer learning

Teachers’ facilitation of collaborative relationships and collective group learning is recognised as encouraging students to work together to attain common goals and collective responsibility for learning, and also contributes to a sense of place and belonging (Gorinski and Abernathy, 2007; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a; May, 2009; Wiseley, 2009).

In particular, the literature emphasises the strength of support Māori learners gain from fostering relationships based on the traditional concept of tuakana-teina derived from the principles of whānaungatanga (relationships) and ako (learning and teaching) (Greenhalgh et al., 2011; Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd 2012a/b; Kopu, 2010b; May, 2009; Mlcek et al., 2011).14

Relationships with parents and whānau

The powerful role of parents and whānau in motivating and supporting learners is well recognised across the literature and is linked to Māori learner retention and completion.

The powerful role of parents and whānau in motivating and supporting learners is well recognised across the literature and is linked to Māori learner retention and completion (Durie, 2001; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a; Kopu, 2010b; White et al., 2009; Williams, 2010; Wiseley, 2009).

For the 16 Māori adult learners who enrolled at university via special admission and had gone on to complete undergraduate degrees in William’s (2010) study, whānau support had been critical to the persistence and success of some of those learners.

In Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd’s (2012a) engagement with Māori learners in industry training “[many] learners stressed the importance of having whānau who provided regular monitoring of progress … Learners who had recently completed their apprenticeships or were nearing completion spoke of the significant role that whānau had played in them doing well” (p.23–24).

Employers interviewed in that study identified that getting whānau involved early on was key to learner participation, retention and completion. Developing relationships with whānau meant that ongoing communication occurred about the learner’s progress, including identifying when additional support and motivation were required.

Just as the literature recognises the significant importance of whānau support, so too does the literature recognise the absence of whānau support and encouragement as a barrier to learner retention, completion and progression. For example, in the same study by Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd (2012a), stakeholders observed that for those learners who had limited whānau support “often the apprentice found it very difficult and these were usually the cases where an apprentice would not complete” (p.24).

Therefore, teachers’ ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with parents can be pivotal. Such relationships are important to enable whānau to be involved in supporting learners’ goal development and progression, to understand study expectations and requirements, to identify how they can best support their rangatahi, and to enable teaching staff to better understand learners’ needs and experiences on an ongoing basis.

Māori and non-Māori providers consulted in the youth transition research undertaken by Kopu (2010a), pointed out that that while it can be difficult to engage family members, such relationships can be fostered by proactive activities centred on welcoming and encouraging whānau to become actively involved in students’ learning. Examples shared by providers included family days, offering family counselling, and running a whānau literacy programme.

High expectations and belief in Māori learners’ abilities

High expectations and a belief in Māori students’ abilities is seen as contributing to Māori learner achievement when coupled with effective teaching practices, including ongoing encouragement and support (Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a/b; Kopu, 2010b; Tahau-Hodges, 2010).

The negative impact of teachers’ low expectations of Māori learners’ abilities is well canvassed in literature pertaining to Māori students experiences’ in secondary school education.

“Bishop and Berryman, the co-creators of the [Te Kotahitanga] programme, found that the dominance of deficit theorising by teachers, both consciously and unconsciously, perpetuate teachers’ already low expectations of Māori students’ ability. Students who feel their teachers have low or negative expectations of them will respond negatively, resulting in frustrating consequences for both students and teachers” (Human Rights Commission, 2012, p.32).

The recent literature on Māori learners’ experiences in tertiary education also identifies this concern and emphasises the importance of teachers and institutions believing in the abilities of Māori learners.

High expectations and a belief in Māori students’ abilities is seen as contributing to Māori learner achievement when coupled with effective teaching practices, including ongoing encouragement and support (Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a/b; Kopu, 2010b; Tahau-Hodges, 2010).

This emphasis on high expectation is linked to positive teacher interactions with learners centred on building self-belief and self-esteem and encouraging goals and progression (Coombes, 2006; Phillips and Mitchell, 2009). May (2009) found that this is particularly crucial for Māori learners who have often had negative learning experiences in the education system.

Quality teacher delivery

Research with Māori learners shows that the quality of teacher delivery can be a key barrier or enabler to Māori learners’ engagement in learning, retention and achievement.

Quality delivery encompasses teacher’s passion for what they teach, subject knowledge expertise and professional credibility, communication skills that ensure concepts are explained clearly, ability to relate well with learners. Quality teaching also included the establishment of clear roles and boundaries, but also flexibility in learning (Airini et al., 2011; Akroyd, Knox and Sloane, 2009; Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Kāhui Tautoko Ltd, 2012a; Madjar et al., 2010; May, 2009; Phillips and Mitchell, 2010).

Students interviewed by Akroyd, Knox and Sloane (2009) who had either successfully completed or not completed their tertiary studies, identified that the skill of kaiako15  had been a key factor. The students who had positive outcomes (that is completion of studies) identified kaiako as a teacher’s ability to explain concepts clearly and simply and to use effective methods to work with the range of students in the class.

Teacher quality was also the main reason identified to explain students’ withdrawal from studying in Wiseley’s (2009) research. Students had minimal confidence in kaiako who lacked knowledge or had limited teaching abilities.

Conversely, several of the “non-successful” students had been in “situations in which kaiako had failed to create a safe or supportive learning environment, did not have the expertise to teach the course material in sufficient depth, or were not able to provide clear and consistent explanations” (p.13).

Teacher quality was also the main reason identified to explain students’ withdrawal from studying in Wiseley’s (2009) research. Students had minimal confidence in kaiako who lacked knowledge or had limited teaching abilities.

Greenwood and Te Aika (2008) in discussing the importance of teacher knowledge and credibility identified how the presence of excellent teaching staff in an organisation impacts on the institution’s reputation and how this has an impact on whether potential learners, whānau, and the wider Māori community choose to engage with the organisation.

Māori cultural values and tikanga central to teaching and learning

Seeing one’s own experiences, culture, values and world views centrally reflected in teaching and learning is integral to Māori learners’ sense of belonging in the learning environment. Conversely, where this is absent or added-on the learning environment lacks relevance for Māori learners and contributes to their marginalisation and isolation.

The literature discusses this at two interrelated levels: one, the integration of Māori cultural values and tikanga into the learning environment, and two, the way in which teachers are able to integrate the Māori community into the teaching and learning (Airini et al., 2011; Curtis et al., 2012; Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Hall, 2011; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a; May, 2008; Mullane, 2010; White et al., 2009; Wikaire and Ratima, 2011).

As discussed above in relation to student-teacher relationships the degree to which those involved in each programme practice the values of aroha, manaakitanga and whānaungatanga is particularly significant (Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008). May similarly finds that courses “infused with explicit tikanga and Māori pedagogies, such as whakawhānaungtanga and tuakana-teina” (p.7) are an integral part of Māori student success.

Just as Māori experiences, culture and tikanga should be a central part of teaching and learning, so should assessment content and practices incorporate Te Ao Māori to affirm and develop Māori cultural knowledge and identity.

In a small study exploring how non-Māori teachers embedded Māori content in their teaching and learning, Hall provides examples of the active modelling of tikanga Māori undertaken by teachers and students on an everyday basis in the classroom. Hall’s examples include mihimihi (introductions) at the start of the course, manaakitanga (the sharing of kai), and the consistent and regular use of Māori historical events, and relevant current issues, Māori language terms and concepts, Māori statistical data and information, and Māori perspectives and practices.

Hall identified how non-Māori staff built strong and appropriate practices through mentoring from Māori colleagues, the reflective critique of teaching materials and delivery by Māori peers, professional development and training in Māori language and cultural practices, and their interactions with local Māori community experts. Teaching delivery methods included co-teaching with Māori colleagues, Māori guest lecturers, and learning on the marae.

The integration of the wider Māori community and local marae into students’ learning is identified as upholding a real context for tikanga and enabing students to learn from knowledgeable experts. This affirms students’ connections to the local Māori community. It enables learners to place their learning in a community context and to explore how the knowledge and skills they acquire can be used to benefit their own communities once they graduate (Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a; Mlcek et al., 2009).

This level of respect for Māori culture and values necessitates staff connections to the wider Māori community and their access and receptiveness to strong cultural and local iwi knowledge (Marshall, Baldwin and Peach, 2008; Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008).

Te Ao Māori integrated in assessment

Just as Māori experiences, culture and tikanga should be a central part of teaching and learning, so should assessment content and practices incorporate Te Ao Māori to affirm and develop Māori cultural knowledge and identity (Hall, 2011; Hohapata, 2011; Wiseley, 2009).

Hohapata (2011) reviewed how a small Māori private training establishment Matapuna Training Centre, changed its assessment practices to integrate Te Ao Māori, which led to a significant increase in student credit achievement.

That study relayed several examples of how this can readily be achieved across diverse programmes:

“In a computing course an example of linking to Te Ao Māori could be an assessment task where a student puts together a powerpoint presentation of their pepeha and whakapapa … In a multi media course, the link to Te Ao Māori might include the study of traditional forms of Tamoko design” (p.5)

This particular initiative as an example of the integration of Te Ao Māori into teaching, learning and assessment is summarised further in the box below. It provides insight into how students’ mana and esteem can be developed through the building of cultural knowledge in teaching and learning. It is also an example of the integration of the local Māori community and marae into teaching and learning.

Integrating Te Ao Māori into teaching, learning and assessment – Matapuna Training Centre

Aim/focus
Action research was undertaken using a methodology of integrated assessment with Māori youth learners aged 16-18 years enrolled in Youth Training with Matapuna Training Centre, a small Māori PTE in Tairawhiti. Learners commonly had not experienced education success before and were dealing with social and family issues.
Factors driving the initiative
This different approach to assessment was driven by “non-completion of workbooks, low credit achievement, frustrated tutors and students” (Hohapata, 2011, p.5).
Activities
Mentors worked alongside Māori youth learners to facilitate the assessment process and to link achievement with naturally occurring evidence from activities learners engaged in during the course. This was a shift from previous assessment practices of using nationally purchased workbooks.

The learning and assessment activities developed ranged from “listening and engaging in discussions before, during and after an activity, reading, writing, speaking and listening and engaging in group learning such as wananga, a marae noho and Pohiri” (Hohapata, 2011, p.4).

One practical example shared of an activity to achieve cultural, communication skills and literacy outcomes, was learners’ participation in a noho marae requiring students to learn about the tikanga and kawa of the particular marae and whakapapa, personal health and safety, roles and responsibilities and team work.

This involves the local marae. A kuia’s feedback on the performance of a karanga on the marae contributed to student’s learning and achievement across unit standards about assertiveness, cultural performance, speaking and listening and is an example of the integration of community knowledge to enhance students’ learning. Collective group work and peer observation, evaluation and teaching were also actively facilitated.
Factors of success
As a result of this initiative, student achievement increased by 20-30 credits plus for learners in the trials during the trial timeframe. Before the project, credit achievement had been below expectations.
Hohapata, 2011

Culturally specific learning spaces and peer mentoringTop

A core component of culturally appropriate and relevant learning environments is an institution’s provision of effective, culturally-specific learning spaces and opportunities, such as peer mentoring, to support Māori learners to engage academically confident, and to experience a culturally safe, supportive and familiar learning environment.

The presence or absence of culturally specific learning support opportunities, and the quality of these opportunities for Māori learners, relies on the commitment on the part of the institution, particularly senior management, to implement, fund and support them (Curtis et al., 2012).

Culturally specific learning spaces

Māori and Pasifika learners’ identification of the value of culturally specific, relevant and supportive learning spaces was evident in the findings of the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE).

The importance of culturally specific learning spaces for Māori learners include tutorials specifically for Māori learners, and also campus-based marae, whānau rooms, and cultural and whānau focused activities (Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Tahau-Hodges, 2010).

The research highlights the value of these spaces. As Airini et al. (2010) observed in reflecting on Māori learner engagement in such spaces during degree study, these spaces provided “havens in which minority culture, language and identity could be normal, and learning, support, and success could occur through lenses of culture, language and identity … surrounded by your friends, your peers, like people you feel comfortable with” (p.83).

Māori and Pasifika learners’ identification of the value of culturally specific, relevant and supportive learning spaces was evident in the findings of the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE).

As Van der Meer, Scott and Neha (2010) report, nearly a third of Māori and Pasifika learners commented on the benefits of a supportive learning environment with illustrative comments including: “Allowing Māori students a place of their own where they mix their ideas and share their learning with each other and others … Offers of academic and other support, in particular Tuakana Program (discipline-specific workshops for Māori & Pacific Islanders)” (p.7).

The strength of mentors and mentoring programmes provides access to senior Māori academics, peers and role models.

The report by Radloffe and Coates (2011) in reviewing the AUSSE findings identified that Māori and Pasifika students were more likely to have difficulty keeping up to date with their study and were more likely to have seriously considered leaving, in later years. The report suggests that there is a need for the provision of greater learning support for Māori and Pasifika learners (Van der Meer, Scott and Neha, 2010).

Peer mentoring

The important role of peer mentoring in supporting Māori learners to develop a sense of place and to connect academically and socially in the tertiary environment has also been discussed.

Earlier literature has identified that minority students’ access to mentors significantly affects decisions to persist with studying (Coombes, 2006). Information from three TEOs offering formal mentoring programmes in Tahau-Hodges (2010) study suggested that Māori learners who participated in mentoring relationships were “more likely to complete their courses and qualifications than other Māori learners attending the institution” (p.19).

The strength of mentors and mentoring programmes provides access to senior Māori academics, peers and role models, and its power to “deliberately bring Māori learners together as academic learning communities to provide academic support” (Tahau-Hodges, 2010, p.16-17). It is empowering as it helps Māori students gain confidence and self-belief by engaging with peers who have similar experiences and by seeing and being inspired by the success of students from similar backgrounds (Curtis et al., 2012; Ross, 2010).

It is important that the programmes developed, designed and delivered by TEOs are relevant to, and based on, an informed understanding of the needs and aspirations of Māori learners and communities.

In reviewing mentoring practices in both Māori and non-Māori organisations, Tahau-Hodges (2010) identified that good mentoring practice was based on Māori values, principles and practices (such as aroha, manaakitanga, rangatiratanga, kotahitanga and kaitiakitanga) and encouraged connectedness between the mentor and person being mentored and a sense of responsibility to each other.

Although a distinction was made between informal and formal mentoring programmes operating in the different institutions, the mentoring observed in non-Māori participating institutions operated in similar ways to kaupapa-Māori education institutes when based on Māori values and practices, a kaupapa-Māori based relationship framework, and when intrinsic to the teaching and learning process.

Programmes relevant to Māori learners and communitiesTop

It is important that the programmes developed, designed and delivered by TEOs are relevant to, and based on, an informed understanding of the needs and aspirations of Māori learners and communities.

Equally, programmes need to be responsive to the needs of iwi, industry and other key stakeholders.

Programme delivery responsive to learners’ individual holistic needs

Literature, particularly about student retention, emphasises the need for institutions to identify and to be responsive to factors in learners’ lives that can impact on attendance, course work, completions and achievement. Several studies discuss employment and whānau responsibilities (Williams, 2011; Wiseley, 2009) as two particular factors commonly impacting on Māori learner retention and engagement in learning, and the need for institutions to respond with flexible programme delivery options.

As Williams (2011) explains in reporting on research with 16 Māori learners aged 25 to 56 years of age who had entered university by special admission and successfully completed undergraduate degrees:

“In a collectivist culture, maintaining whānau relationships and responsibilities is culturally expected. Some participants found it particularly difficult to balance family and study commitments because of the strong collective emphasis inherent within Māori culture” (p.65).

To help learners balance commitments and responsibilities, different programme delivery options, such as weekend block courses and evening classes are identified. In addition, in the study undertaken by Greenwood and Te Aika (2008), students at one TEO were able to negotiate class start and finish times and assignment due dates because of the relationships and respect that existed between tutors and students.

However, despite this important focus, there is limited research or evaluation identified in the literature examining the impact that particular flexible or other delivery models have had in responding to the needs of different learners and their related impact on Māori learner retention, participation and completion.

Tikanga and cultural values embedded in curriculum and programme delivery

Equally, the literature identifies that tikanga and Māori values should be embedded within and across the curriculum to ensure that tikanga is “lived and practised, and not just a theoretical construct” (Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008).

As identified in the previous section, the central place of Māori content, tikanga and culture in teaching, learning and assessment enables Māori learners to develop and build their cultural knowledge and identity and ensures the relevance and sense of place that Māori learners have in the tertiary environment.

Equally, the literature identifies that tikanga and Māori values should be embedded within and across the curriculum to ensure that tikanga is “lived and practised, and not just a theoretical construct” (Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008). To ensure the relevance of programmes, Māori communities and iwi should be involved in curriculum design.

This assumes that TEOs have strong internal capability, deliver relevant programmes and activities, and have strong connections with local Māori communities, or have established relationships with other providers or organizations to enable this offering and to match students’ needs and goals (Phillips and Mitchell, 2010).

Strong cultural identify is important

Integrating culturally relevant content and pedagogy is not only affirming of Māori learners’ cultural identity, but can support Māori to develop their self-identity. This is important as several of the recent studies refer to past research suggesting Māori learners are more likely to succeed when they have strong cultural identity and are culturally confident (Airini et al., 2010; Hall, 2011; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd, 2012a; Marshall, Baldwin and Peach, 2008; Mullane, 2010; Tahau-Hodges, 2010).

Van der Meer, Scott and Neha’s (2010) recent analysis of the survey responses from 105 Māori learners found a link between learner retention and strong Māori identity and help-seeking, as well as learners’ engagement in Māori tutorials. Conversely, anecdotal evidence from Tahau-Hodge’s (2010) engagement with providers delivering Māori mentoring programmes, suggested that learners with little knowledge or experience of their Māori cultural identity was a key determining factor in Māori learners struggling at tertiary level.

In Phillips and Mitchell’s (2010) research, providers interviewed related that a large number of Māori students were disconnected from hapū and iwi and had little understanding or experience of Māori cultural knowledge, practices or te reo Māori. As such, the providers worked to connect students to hapū and iwi, cultural traditions, language and practices.

Similarly, several examples are relayed across the literature about teaching and learning activities centered on enhancing cultural identity, including connecting learners to marae, and through wānanga, noho marae, and powhiri (Hohapata, 2011; Mullane, 2010). One initiative identified is Unitec’s Whai Ake Mentoring Programme.

Maia and the Whai Ake Mentoring Programme – Unitec

Maia and its Whai Ake Mentoring Programme delivered at Unitec’s Māori Development Centre is an example of a programme focused on building learners’ cultural knowledge and identity. The programme provides learners with academic, cultural and pastoral support and through its compulsory elective ‘Mana Motuhake’ delivered on the Unitec marae, provides cultural support and develops cultural knowledge focusing on subjects such as mihi, pepeha, tikanga marae, Treaty of Waitangi and Māori mythology.
(Tahau-Hodges, 2010)

Marae-based delivery

…there are only a very small number of recent studies that discuss delivery of programmes solely on the marae and these are divided on whether or not that is a key enabler to TEOs doing better for Māori learners.

While the recent literature consistently identifies the importance of teaching and learning incorporating marae experiences, there are only a very small number of recent studies that discuss delivery of programmes solely on the marae and these are divided on whether or not that is a key enabler to TEOs doing better for Māori learners.

Greenwood and Te Aika (2008) suggest that “the placement of courses for Māori in physical marae buildings is less important than developing spaces where Māori values operate, where Māori knowledge is valued, where iwi are welcomed, and where Māori people can be at home” (p. 96). The authors also point out that observation and respect of the tikanga of the local iwi is an indicator of the programme’s cultural integrity.

In contrast to Greenwood and Te Aika, Mullane (2010) identifies stronger completion rates achieved in a certificate level programme delivered on a marae as compared with completions in programmes delivered on-site at the tertiary institution. This marae-delivered programme was the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s Certificate in Marine studies delivered on two marae for at-risk youth. Mullane observed that the two marae offerings of the programme “achieved over 80 percent successful completion rates for their non-traditional cohorts, which eclipsed completion rates for the majority of on-site programme offerings” (p.10).

Mlcek et al. (2009) believe that the enhancement of foundation learning opportunities are achieved through marae-based delivery due to the “development and reaffirmation coming from a different kind of wairua on the marae, the strength of leaders to enhance learning, and the knowledge that learning on the marae is the stepping stone to success” (p.4). The marae environment was seen as significant to building and affirming Māori learners’ identity and to enhancing learning outcomes in a safe environment.

Mlcek also identifies that in addition to nurturing individual Māori students “[a]uthentic marae-based models of education should be considered as the primary vehicle for the promotion, delivery and sustainability of te reo Māori and ngā Matauranga” (p.5.).

Growing te reo Māori pathways and advancing Mātauranga Māori capability

Aside from references to centrally reflecting Māori culture, including te reo Māori, in teaching and learning, there is limited recent literature exploring Māori learners’ engagement in te reo Māori-specific programmes at tertiary level, including barriers and enablers to achievement and to progression to advanced pathway opportunities. There is also a limited understanding of cultural papers and programmes available to learners.

One paper by Philip-Barbara (2012) identifies three core components to engaging students in te reo Māori – the ability for students to apply their language in a range of Māori language speaker communities, utilising ‘language movers and shakers’ within respective rohe in teaching roles, and the encouragement of students to actively engage their whānau and household in the journey.

There is also a lack of discussion in the literature about TEOs’ roles and activities that contribute to the advancement of Mātauranga Māori. However, this is, a core focus of the tertiary education sector, and it is included in the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s quality assurance of TEOs (excluding universities) delivering programmes that lead to a qualification approved under the recently launched Mātauranga Māori Evaluative Quality Assurance Framework.

Under that framework key evaluation questions guiding the quality assurance process include the extent to which Mātauranga Māori expressions of scholarship and significant creative activity are evident, and whether explicit links are made between educational performance and the contribution towards the preservation, promotion and advancement of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.16

There is also little information available in recent literature about the contribution of TEOs to the advancement of Māori research and knowledge, including through the Performance-Based Research Funding and collaborative partnerships across the sector, as well as approaches that have worked well to successfully engage Māori learners in research at higher levels of study. There is little recent research evidence about enablers and barriers supporting Māori learners to engage in and complete doctoral studies. However, there are several specific initiatives that have been developed to advance Māori research and knowledge, as discussed in the boxes below.

TEO initiatives to advance Māori research and knowledge

Te Kotahi Research Institute – The University of Waikato

The Kotahi Research Institute is described as the unified vision of Te Rōpū Manuwharekura, a unique advisory body representing iwi within Waikato University’s region. It was established to increase Māori engagement in research and development by improving access to research and providing pathways for innovation. The institute’s stated aims include: undertaking research that will accelerate development and lead to social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing; building strong iwi, community and international networks that support Māori development; and applying mātauranga Māori, diverse Māori perspectives, indigenous knowledge and disciplinary knowledge in order to develop innovative approaches to research and development.
Villegas, 2010

Te Mata o Te Tau, the Academy for Māori Research and Scholarship – Massey University

Te Mata o Te Tau was established to provide a forum for fostering Māori academic advancement and creating new knowledge “in the nexus between indigenous knowledge and the sciences”. It focuses on collaboration across academic disciplines and subject areas, promotion of high quality research to contribute to new knowledge and positive Māori development and the provision of leadership for Māori academics at Massey University.
Villegas, 2010

Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga

Creating and advancing Mātauranga Māori is a key role of Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga, a Centre of Research Excellence funded by the TEC and hosted by the University of Auckland. Partnerships are with many entities, including with a number of universities and three wānanga, to contribute to excellent research and to “create a synergy of excellence across Māori and non-Māori researchers and across disciplines”17  Iwi leaders are also partners in research and doctoral training. Many projects funded have included iwi leaders as key project leaders. Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga supports Māori doctoral students through the provision of writing workshops, retreats, clustered peer supervision and a nationally networked curriculum that is part of its Capability Building Programme.
 Smith. K (2007) and Villegas, 2012

Manu-Ao – multi-university collaboration

Manu Ao is a collaboration involving all New Zealand universities. It was funded by the TEC from 2009 and 2012. The initiative was aimed at building leadership in academia and research and to extend Māori professional capability. Its intent was to forge connections between research, policy and practice, including engaging indigenous organisations across the world and strengthening activities in universities. This involved strengthening the interface between professional practice and university education to better align academic courses with workplace demands, and to ensure greater certainty for practitioners in sectors undertaking postgraduate education. Relationships were established between professional organisations and academic programmes relevant to Māori professionals. Leadership courses and leadership wananga were held to build the ability of Māori academics and professionals to undertake leadership roles.
As described in an internal TEC document and in Villegas, 2011

National Institute of Creative Arts and Industry Tuākana Research Assistant Training Programme – University of Auckland

Aim/focus
The programme is focused on developing Māori and Pasifika researchers, expanding research into Māori and Pasifika areas of interest and adding to existing knowledge.
Activities
Students develop core research skills: conducting interviews, data analysis, effective literature searching, kaupapa Māori and Pasifika methodology, literature review, research design, research proposals, research reading, time management, and writing a research report. Sessions are facilitated by Māori and Pasifika researchers and Māori and Pasifika programme graduates either operating in their field of practice or enrolled as current postgraduate students. Research assistant roles are offered to further develop students’ research capacity and experience and to put learning into practice.
Factors of success
The programme provides an opportunity for students to work across disciplines, to network culturally with other high achieving students and to be inspired by Māori and Pasifika staff and alumni. Examples are identified where graduates, as a result of the initiative, have pursued ongoing research including through enrolment in postgraduate study. There has also been an identified increase in the number of Māori and Pasifika students doing postgraduate courses within the initiative.
Manalo, E., Marshall, J., Fraser, C., 2010

In concluding this subsection, it seems fitting to return to the work of the Māori tertiary reference group of the MOE who in 2003 published the Māori Tertiary Education Framework. That framework articulated seven key priorities, which interweave with a number of the findings of this review of the more recent literature: lifelong learning pathways; kaupapa Māori provision; inclusive learning environments; Māori as sustainable wealth creators; Māori leadership; advancement of whānau, hapū and iwi; and Māori-centred knowledge creation.

With regards to Māori-centred knowledge creation, the framework specifies core areas of focus to guide the growing of Māori research capability and capacity that is part of Mātauranga Māori and provides key insights given the literature gaps identified in the recent review of the literature. Guiding goals are:

Realisation of these goals requires collaboration between researchers, Māori communities, kaupapa Māori providers, TEOs and research institutions. It also requires institutions to recognise “their kaitaki (guardianship) role as holders of Māori knowledge held by or passed to them as students participate in tertiary education” (p. 35).

Strategic relationships and collaboration with iwi and industryTop

Strong links and input from local hapū and iwi and Māori communities, including iwi representation on governing boards, is identified as a characteristic of successful providers in several studies (for example, Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Phillips and Mitchell, 2010).

As agents for whānau and parents, iwi are in a position to provide advice, contribute to planning, and monitor progress, and to promote the inclusion of learning opportunities that will contribute to the wider goals of tribes and Māori communities” (Durie, 2006).

The development and maintenance of collaborative relationships with iwi and Māori communities are vital to institutions’ abilities to understand the economic, cultural and educational aspirations and needs, as well as plans and initiatives of Māori communities. This is crucial to the identification, development and delivery of relevant programmes and opportunities, which have Māori knowledge, tikanga and Māori culture at their centre (Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Kāhui Tautoko Consulting 2012a; Mullane, 2010).

Greenwood and Te Aika (2008) identify active consultation as involving “iwi in advisory roles to the institution and the programme, strong visibility of local iwi in staff profiles, iwi input into programme content, and observation of local iwi tikanga” (p.89).

Strong links and input from local hapū and iwi and Māori communities, including iwi representation on governing boards, is identified as a characteristic of successful providers in several studies (for example, Greenwood and Te Aika, 2008; Phillips and Mitchell, 2010).

Across the four programmes at different TEOs studied in the research undertaken by Greenwood and Te Aika, a common key element was either a marked level of iwi support, or institutional commitment to collaboration with iwi. This saw programmes that arose from an iwi plan for the educational development of its people, collaboration with iwi that occurred from programme conception, and programmes that were iwi driven, led or developed.

Attaining a high level of iwi support for a programme is identified as significant because it “impacts on the way Māori students perceive their programme, the sense of ease and safety experienced by Māori students and staff, access to Māori content, the programmes’ ability to promote their courses to Māori and recruit students, perceptions of vocational success, and the institution’s and the programme’s ability to contribute significantly to the capacity building of the community as a whole” (Greenwood and Te Aika, 2009, p.6).

Similarly, Mullane (2010), commenting on the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s engagement with local iwi and Māori (including representation of local iwi on its Māori Council), identified that increased consultation in the development of academic programmes resulted in an increased integration of contextualised Māori content within programmes, and a stronger amalgamation of bi-cultural attitudes in mainstream delivery.

Strategic relationships and collaborations with industry

In discussing the growing Māori economic asset base in a post-Treaty settlement environment, NZQA’s Māori strategic plan also suggests that the “skills and qualifications pathways for Māori learners should align with the new and growing areas of economic opportunity.”

In addition to establishing strategic and collaborative relationships between TEOs and iwi, building a working relationship with industry is also significant in providing opportunities for Māori learners and in developing and delivering relevant programmes, including those that will engage learners in pathways tied to future areas of employment, economic growth and demand.

Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd (2012a) discusses the significant opportunities available to Māori learners through iwi support and involvement in industry training and workplace learning, including iwi scholarships and marae-based trades training programmes. Stakeholders interviewed in that study saw iwi “as potentially playing a greater role in apprenticeship programmes as a result of economic benefits derived from Treaty of Waitangi settlements – for example through the provision of scholarships – as well as some iwi taking a greater leadership role in the delivery of tertiary education … ” (p.48).

Accordingly, Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd identifies a need for further research to explore how opportunities for Māori learners can be strengthened through iwi-industry collaborations and to understand factors supporting and inhibiting such collaborations.

Similarly, in discussing the growing Māori economic asset base in a post-Treaty settlement environment, NZQA’s Māori strategic plan18  also suggests that the “skills and qualifications pathways for Māori learners should align with the new and growing areas of economic opportunity” (p.20). Central to this are collaborations between TEOs, iwi and industry, and an understanding of what works and what does not work to support such relationships.

Strategic relationships and collaborations also with industry

He Toki ki te Rika

He Toki ki te Rika is an Institute of Technology Polytechnic and iwi-led Māori trades training partnership involving Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, and the Built Environment Training Alliance (BETA) cluster of Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) with support from Hawkins Construction and initial funding from Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK). CPIT and industry training organisation partners deliver the training and Te Tapuae operationalises the contributions of Ngāi Tahu.
Aim/focus
The partnership tied to the Canterbury rebuild is aimed at recruiting and supporting Māori to complete trades training, to transition into employment, to complete an apprenticeship programme and to progress to advanced/ leadership training. All training modules were designed to lead to apprenticeships at Level 4 and above.
Enrolments
The partnership was launched in June 2011 with initial support from TPK for recruitment and pastoral care. It sought 200 Māori trainees by Dec 2011. While this number was initially exceeded at an early stage (initially 237), by June 2012 134 were enrolled. A number withdrew due to work or family commitments. Enrolments have been predominantly young Māori men with lower levels of past educational attainment and employment experience.
Obstacles
Obstacles to successful completion of training and transition to employment have been identified as foundational in nature. Most trainees came with limited educational achievement and limited experience and preparedness for work (ie. no driver’s licence, not drug free). Financial constraints, lack of a ‘skills broker’ function and adequate transition support, and limited employment and apprenticeship opportunities in Christchurch were also identified.
Responding to obstacles
Identification of these obstacles led to a proposal for greater investment and alignment with social services activities. In addition, a focus on incentivising further progression into higher levels of training such as apprenticeships, and expanding wrap around supports post-training, to ensure greater realisation of Māori potential at higher skill levels and to limit seepage at transition points.

There has been a focus on a model that includes enhanced coordination among the partnership organisations centred around the iwi and specifically tailored to Māori, including enhanced pastoral care, pre-training foundation skills (including a work readiness/experience programme), links to existing trades networks and training pathways that can respond to a changing environment. An integrated multi-agency funding model through an integrated and iwi-led investment approach was suggested.
Te Tapuae o Rehua, 2011

TEO leadership and management committed to Māori learner successTop

In their writings on equity both Taurere (2010) and Nakhid (2011) identify that although equity is centered on equal opportunity, justice and fairness for all, the strength of the implementation of equity directives is shaped by those engaged in its implementation.

Nakhid’s paper identified the concern that some university academic staff did not see it as their role to change their teaching practices or to address negative statistics around Māori student achievement.

Therefore, Nakhid identified the need for institutions to educate and require staff across the board to understand their responsibilities for equity and for improving Māori learner achievement. Moreover, those involved in equity decision-making need to understand how operational structures support and maintain unjust practices.

The core elements identified in this report as central to Māori learners’ positive experiences and outcomes in the tertiary learning environment are highly dependent on TEOs embracing and driving leadership and management.

The core elements identified in this report as central to Māori learners’ positive experiences and outcomes in the tertiary learning environment are highly dependent on TEOs embracing and driving leadership and management.

(Fitchett, 2010; Mullane, 2010; Wiseley, 2009).

It is of note that in the secondary education sector, professional development through Te Kotahitanga Professional Development programme uses the Effective Teaching Profile developed by Bishop and Berryman (2009) to focus on the creation of culturally responsive learning contexts. This includes supporting teachers to “understand the need to explicitly reject deficit theorising as a means of explaining Māori students’ educational achievement levels, and where teachers take an agentic position in their theorising about their own practice” (p.31).

Macfarlane (2010) identifies that:

“A constant reality that continues to challenge educators across the sectors is that the majority of Māori are enrolled in mainstream settings and that the majority of their educators are non-Māori … [who need to] study and interact with the intricacies of culturally responsive practice and to integrate the newly acquired knowledge into their respective contexts” (Macfarlane, 2010, p.2).

In the tertiary setting, Macfarlane (2010) refers to a summer school course to engage educators in responsive ways with cultural diversity, while also being aware of the impact of any personal biases they might have. This is called “Culturally inclusive pedagogies. Motivating diverse learners” and includes profiles of what culturally responsive teachers and teaching looks like. The central message is that when educators:

connect to the culture of the student in the classes, building and sustaining relationships are enhanced and the likelihood of better performance by the students increases” (Ibid, p.2).

Key findingsTop

As discussed, culturally relevant and supportive teaching and learning environments impact significantly on the extent to which Māori learners participate in and do well in tertiary education.

Much hinges on the quality and skills of teaching staff, and the central place of Māori learners’ experiences, and Māori culture, values and tikanga. These factors are important to building learners’ cultural identity, confidence and self-esteem and depend on the presence of culturally competent staff knowledgeable in tikanga, as well as educators’ and providers’ connections to local marae, hapū, iwi and Māori communities.

In sum, effective teaching and learning environments for Māori require:

Effective teacher relationships and interactions

Quality teacher delivery

Culturally specific learning spaces and peer mentoring

Māori cultural values and tikanga central to learning

Programmes relevant to Māori learners and communities

Strategic relationships and collaboration with iwi and industry

TEO leadership and management committed to Māori learner success

12Refer note 11.
13Core elements of this approach identified, included: “Ata-haere: To be intentional and approach reflectively; Ata-whakarongo: To listen with reflective deliberation; Ata-noho: To give quality time to be with people and their issues; Ata-whakaaro: To think with deliberation, considering possibilities; Ata-korero: To communicate and speak with clarity” (p15).
14Refer to page 39 of this report regarding the tuakana-teina relationship.
15Kaiako = Teacher.
16Refer http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/assets/Maori/MMEQA/MM-EQA-EER-Tools.pdf
17http://www.maramatanga.co.nz
18Te Rautaki Māori A Te Mana Tohu Mātauranga O Aotearoa. Māori Strategic Plan for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority 2012–2017.