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Māori Cultural Identity and Education

Underachievement of Māori students in mainstream schools has been a major topic of discussion by politicians and educational researchers in recent years. Research has shown that a secure cultural identity can enhance a person’s overall well-being and furthermore improve their chances of educational success. However, in reality, statistics show that a high percentage of the Māori population have little or no knowledge of their language and culture. The research question in this study will ask Māori whānau how they perceive cultural identity in relation to their children’s education. Principles of Kaupapa Māori, Takepū and indigenous research and qualitative research methods have been used to ensure that participants were culturally and ethically respected. Participants interviewed in this study are members of my own whānau and some close friends. As an insider researcher I was committed to ensuring that my whānau were treated with respect and dignity throughout the research process. The interview data has exposed some unexpected issues specifically relating to their educational experiences and cultural identity. In the context of historical records and education for Māori, the findings of this study suggest that the educational experiences of Māori whānau have been, and continue to be, strongly influenced by government policies enforced before and during the period in which they attended school. All the whānau interviewed acknowledged their ethnic identity as Māori, however, most of them had little or no knowledge and understanding of Te Reo Māori nor had they taken part in cultural practices. Government policies restricted the use of the Māori language, disengaged them from their culture and curriculum provision limited expectations for both males and females. Mixed ethnicity and urbanisation were also identified as factors in the loss of their cultural identity. Data also shows that cultural identity loss has progressed on to future generations and influenced Māori whānau priorities and choice of school. The aim of this study is to provide educational policy makers with an in-depth understanding of the perspectives of Māori whānau determine their specific needs in education and propose some suggestions on how to improve achievement of Māori whānau in mainstream schools.
Type of thesis
Hawaikirangi-Pere, C. (2013). Māori Cultural Identity and Education (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8702
University of Waikato
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