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Kia mau ki tō Māoritanga - The role of Māori teachers in English medium primary schools

The achievement levels between Māori and non-Māori students remains increasingly wide within a westernised education system. This system has continued to perpetuate the ongoing failure of Māori students. We need to look at ways in which Māori students can best be supported in English medium education settings as these are where the majority of Māori students receive their schooling, and how we can close the gap between Māori and non-Māori achievement. Māori teachers are a minority group within English medium education and their potential to raise Māori student achievement is often overlooked (Lee, 2009). This thesis used a case study approach framed by kaupapa Māori methodology to examine how one primary school, whose Māori students are achieving at similar levels to their non-Māori peers, utilises Māori staff to enhance the cultural pedagogy of the school and how this contributes to the success of Māori students. The literature review takes an historic look at Māori within a westernised education system and looks at how Māori underachievement is not a recent occurrence but an ongoing issue, dating back over one hundred years. It draws on international literature around the experiences of other indigenous peoples who have experienced colonisation, and highlights the similar struggles that they have had, and continue to have as minority students. The literature review also looks at the ways in which indigenous peoples are working to lift indigenous achievement and the role of indigenous teachers in supporting this process. It looks at the role that culture plays in the belief of indigenous peoples in their own ability to succeed, which is referred to in this thesis as self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997, Schunk, 1986). In contrast to this students with low self-efficacy will typically avoid difficult tasks in order to minimize risk to self-worth and protect self-esteem (McRae et al., 2010). The findings indicate that Māori teachers at Te Kauri School have some level of proficiency in tikanga and te reo Māori and that this plays a vital role in the schools ability to create a culturally responsive learning environment. The Māori staff have the support of the school leadership team, which promotes and values the inclusion of tikanga and te reo Māori. This culturally responsive environment instils in Māori students at Te Kauri School a sense of pride in who they are as culturally located beings. This pride means that they do not feel pressure to conform to the ways of the dominant culture, rather that they are able to be Māori. This also corresponds with achievement data for the school, which shows that Māori achievement levels are at similar levels to that of non-Māori students, and in some year and gender levels above. The findings indicate that the relationship between Māori whānau (families) and the school is vital in creating a supportive environment and that Māori teachers are especially valuable in this process. Having cultural practices such as kapa haka, waiata and karakia give Māori whānau a connection to the school and provide them with an opportunity to support not only their children but also the school community. The findings also indicate that Māori staff and whānau participants view Māori teachers as role models and that having Māori role models within the school adds to Māori student’s sense of pride in being Māori, thus enhancing their self-efficacy and success.
Type of thesis
Coffin, R. M. (2013). Kia mau ki tō Māoritanga - The role of Māori teachers in English medium primary schools (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7854
University of Waikato
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