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Māori transitions into tertiary education

This thesis critically examines Māori transitions into tertiary education. The research explored the lived transition experiences of 20 Māori tertiary education students in the Bay of Plenty region. Historical and contemporary factors in Aotearoa influencing effective Māori student transitions into tertiary education were investigated. Data were collected and analysed through repeated semistructured interviews and focus groups over the 2016-2018 period with 20 Māori students enrolled in a wānanga, a polytechnic and a university. Participants experienced their transition as a journey, continuously evolving their identities and agency in relation to the tertiary education environments and social structures they encountered. The findings suggest that transitions to tertiary education for Māori students involve a reciprocal interplay of identity, agency and structure which support or constrain transition experiences. Effective transition experiences were underpinned by processes of continuity enabling identity growth. Support was central to how well participants perceived their transition—racism and lack of support were significant barriers; suitable support was a significant enabler. An over-riding theme from this research related to the interplay of power relations and Māori identity. How effectively participants developed a sense of belonging (or alienation) and identity growth linked to the tertiary education environments they encountered during their transition. Within wānanga, participants felt their Māori cultural identity was highly valued; within polytechnics, there was a sense that Māori culture is included but more could be done; within universities, a need for more inclusive practices to support Māori learner requirements was identified. Lastly, this research was conducted by a Pākehā researcher working across kaupapa Māori spaces within interpretive and critical paradigms. Unexpected moments of struggle, discomfort and vulnerability opened up new and deeper understanding of implications for Pākehā educators and researchers engaging across Māori research spaces. This thesis argues for Pākehā to use their privilege to foster more equitable social structures. Equitable social structures would be beneficial for Māori transitions into tertiary education environments.
Type of thesis
Amundsen, D. L. (2019). Māori transitions into tertiary education (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12615
The University of Waikato
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