Tōku Kete

Filling the hole in one's kete

9 April 2020

During this time of uncertainty, and isolation from school as we know it, it is an important time to get grounded and continue to nurture individual identity.  This may be an excellent time for families to strengthen family history/whakapapa connections.  Talk about ancestors/tūpuna, whakapapa links, iwi, hapū, marae and whānau.  Search for photos and images of landmarks such as marae, awa and moana, for marae, tūpuna and waka.  Learn iwi and hapū stories.  Search for and learn more about the stories and histories of your tūpuna.

The other area we can help to strengthen our Māori students is in their mātauranga Māori/Māori knowledge - Knowledge of Ātua Māori, pūrākau and pakiwaitara, Māori history, Māori language, tikanga and kawa, and waiata Māori, weaponry, poi, and kapahaka.  Even research and try cooking some Māori kai that you may not have tried before.  There are many websites online where you can learn about these areas of Mātauranga Māori if you do not already have the knowledge in your home.

Many of our tauira do not have the opportunity to strengthen this knowledge in their regular classroom environments, and so this could be an excellent time to build on this knowledge at home. The more we assist our rangatahi to be grounded in their tuakiri/identity, the more likely they are to be successful in their education and in their lives.

I watched on old episode of the American sitcom 'Good Times' from the 70s on Jones the other night (  Young Michael was graduating from school and the family had high hopes for the young intellectual's future.  But when Michael comes home with a letter saying that he scored low on an IQ test and should look at engaging in trade school rather than an academic school his family cannot understand.  As they question Michael about how he could possibly have achieved a low score on the test they discover that he chose not to complete the test as he felt it was unfair to Blacks and even to poorer children of any ethnicity.

Our education system in New Zealand adopts an assessment system that is inevitably suited more toward middle class Pākeha.  It has been this way for generations.  This continues to be true of our PAT tests, our 5 and 6 year net tests, AsTTle tests, and many NCEA external examinations, etc.  I doubt you will find a test that is used with Māori students that asks questions or includes texts about, for example, tikanga Māori, Māori kai, karakia, Ātua Māori, Māori leaders, waiata or tangi.  The same standardised test is applied to all cultures and all socio-economic groups, even the test continues to privilege middle class Pākehā.  

Standardised testing continues to marginalise and disadvantage Māori students, and some other ethnicities and low socio-economic groups.  There is much work to be done to ensure that Māori knowledge - mātauranga Māori - is seen as 'as valuable' as Pākehā knowledge.  Māori development and advancement is a key educational outcome for many Māori students and yet our education systems continues to dishonour and discredit the value of mātauranga Māori in truly meaningful ways.

Our current system of imparting knowledge and education from homes and online allows for a course correction for Māori students who want to extend and deepen this valuable knowledge.  Personalise learning and learn through a Māori lens - because you can.  You can decide what lens you choose to learn through while you have greater control over your learning environment.

Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui.