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«A LITERATURE REVIEW ON KAUPAPA MAORI AND MAORI EDUCATION PEDAGOGY Prepared for ITP New Zealand by IRI The International Research Institute for Maori ...»

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Graham Smith (1997) asserts that Kaupapa Maori is transferable across and within the various sectors. As such the key elements pertain to all educational sites within which Maori are located. Kaupapa Maori is not restricted to only Te Kohanga Reo or Kura Kaupapa Maori but has application across age groups and educational forms. This is highlighted in the report ‘Te Kawai Ora ’which focuses upon Maori adult literacy. The report states The starting point of this discussion is the validation and affirmation of the Maori world view, of Maori knowledge, matauranga whanau, hapu, iwi, Maori. Starting from the notion of the Maori world view the group explored a range of themes, including how Maori pedagogies are framed within the world view. They talked about making a line in the sand and looking at what is Maori about Maori pedagogies. Being located within the methodology of kaupapa Maori was critical,

as was the expression of rangatiratanga expressed as ‘by Maori for Maori’. (ibid:

68) The report provides a range of examples of how adult Maori literacy programmes drawn from a Maori worldview for developing the pedagogical approach. For example a description is given by Te Ripowai Higgins is cited as providing the following account of the inclusion of the notion ‘kia ngakau mahaki’ within the pedagogy of Te Ataarangi (Adult Maori language programme).

Part of the korero was about the connection between Te Kooti and the Maori world view. She told us of Te Kooti changing his ways to rangimarie, rongopai, and ngawari. When Ngoi Pewhairangi called the first National Te Ataarangi hui, Te Ripowai told us that she advised the hui to take the kaupapa back to Mangatu. From this place, the turangawaewae and tipuna it represented the kaupapa of ‘kia ngakau mahaki came into play. (ibid:68) The term ‘kia ngakau mahaki’ is also referred to in the Kura Kaupapa Maori philosophy document ‘Te Aho Matua’ (Nepe 1991) and in this context may be seen to refer to having a gentle mannered approach. What this discussion indicates is that Maori pedagogy is sourced from a Maori worldview and within te reo and tikanga Maori (Maori protocols). According to Tuakana Mate Nepe (1991) the doctrine of Te Aho Matua provides a philosophical foundation for the education of the Maori child.

Te Aho Matua is a philosophical doctrine that incorporates the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values of Maori society that have emanated from a purely Kaupapa Maori metaphysical base. As a product of the combination of Kaupapa Maori metaphysics and Maori societal relationships, Te Aho Matua sets standards and pedagogical procedures for the significance of Kaupapa Maori education as a system of intervention that is highly applicable today. (Nepe 1991:41) Having some understanding of Kaupapa Maori developments is essential to understanding the ways in which contemporary Maori educational philosophies are currently being articulated. It also provides a framework by which to read this review. Kaupapa Maori is, in fact, what has guided our approach to this literature review and which has informed how we have shaped the material. As a part of a Kaupapa Maori approach it is critical that the reader be provided with a context within which to locate the knowledge included in this review, as such there is a need to present (i) an overview of Maori pedagogy as defined within Maori concepts and tikanga, and (ii) an overview of the ways in which the development of Pakeha schooling and the implanting of western ideologies (Bedggood 1980) has impacted upon Maori pedagogy. The next section serves this purpose.


Ako is a traditional Maori concept that can be translated as Maori pedagogy. In traditionbased Maori society, ako was an educative process that was integral in the creation, conceptualisation, transmission and articulation of Maori knowledge. More recently the term ako has appeared in some of the New Zealand educational literature as Maori and other educators alike, seek to improve the disparities in Maori academic achievement.

The difficulty in attempting a description of ako is that there is no clear separation between ako and other Maori cultural concepts. Ako was determined by and dependent on Maori epistemologies, values, knowledge and constructions of the world. In a description of ako as a Maori educational framework, Pere states “[traditional] institutions do not stand in isolation, but actually merge into each other” (1990:5). It was in the interconnections and fusion of Maori cultural notions that furnished ako with meaning. To fully describe ako would require explanations of an enormous array of other concepts.

Apart from the more formal teaching and learning of esoteric and sacred knowledge that took place between tohunga (experts) and tauira (students) within the whare wananga (formal places of higher learning), ako was not bound by age, gender or social status in tradition-based Maori society. In the article “Traditional Maori Education”, Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Graham Hingangaroa Smith (1993) provide insight into the ways in which pre-colonial education has been documented. The article affirms the existence of a traditional functional system of ‘education’, and outlines some of the key concepts and methods used in the education process. This article critiques works by early ethnographers such as Best, Buck and Smith as being overly descriptive (i.e. The generalisation from the observation of single incidents), overly interpretative (the use of Pakeha concepts to describe Maori practices) and ethnocentric. The authors argue that the most productive sources of information have been sourced from manuscripts and personal descriptions of Maori themselves, such as the writings of Nepia Pahuhu, Te Matorohanga and Koneke.

Smith and Smith (ibid.) view ‘akonga’ as being both informal and formal. In the informal learning and teaching process, important life skills related to survival were taught through everyday living and activities. Linda Tuhiwai Smith (1986) indicates that knowledge was considered tapu and therefore sanctions were put in place that ensured it was protected, used appropriately and transmitted with accuracy. This too was a part of the wider belief that knowledge served the interests of the collective.

Formal akonga refers to controlled or restricted knowledge. These forms of knowledge were guarded by tikanga and restricted by tapu (sacredness). This form of knowledge was passed on through whare wananga and separated into two distinct forms, Te kauae runga and Te kauae raro (These forms are discussed later in the review in more depth).

Hirini Moko Mead (2003) discusses traditional methods and ideas of learning, with particular emphasis on wananga, or houses of learning. The article provides a base understanding for how learning and teaching was carried out in traditional Maori society. He describes that both women and men were separated into different houses of learning. The whanau (the extended family) as a whole played an integral part in the education of the child by observing children’s talents, encouraging learning and in some circumstances choosing specialist education for those children with exceptional skills or traits.

A number of authors indicate that the early education of Maori children was couched within the structure of `whanaungatanga' (relationships and connections between whanau) (Te Rangi Hiroa 1949, Makareti 1986, Hohepa 1990, Ka'ai 1990, Pere 1991, Royal-Tangaere 1992). Particular members of the whanau were selected as kaitiaki (guardians) of some forms of knowledge. For the child the earliest "personal instruction" was received from their tipuna (grandparents), this was made possible due to the whanau living arrangements (Te Rangi Hiroa 1949). The child lived within an environment that embraced at least three generations and was exposed to a lifestyle that allowed for their nurturing and education from their elders. Makareti (1986) describes how children were taught all aspects of life through living and sleeping with their parents, grandparents, granduncles through whom they would learn of folk-lore, traditions, legends, whakapapa (genealogical connections), karakia (incantation) and of their relationship to the land, sea, rivers, mountains, forests, birds and all aspects of nature. Te Rangi Hiroa (1949) also advances such a notion, and provides the following example.

A friend of mine, little older than myself was brought up by a Grand-uncle who still thought that young chiefs should be trained to become successful military leaders.

They slept in the same room in separate beds. In the early mornings, the old man went outside to satisfy certain needs. On his return, he slapped the sleeping child and went back to his bed muttering his disappointment. This went on for some time, until one memorable morning the now apprehensive child heard the old man leave the room. When he returned to slap the sleeper, the child gazed up at him with wide open eyes. A pleased look came to the old man's eyes and he returned to his bed saying "Now I have a grandchild who will be a bulwark of defence to his tribe".

After that they played a game. Some mornings the man got up earlier, others later, but always the child gazed up at him wide awake. The training had had its effect, and the child roused at the slightest sound. (Te Rangi Hiroa, 1949:359) The learning process for the young child took many forms and included both practical type exercises as outlined above, and through the medium of stories, games, waiata (song), karakia, whakapapa and much more, all of which provided the child with explanations as to their place in the scheme of things, their positioning in society, descriptions of places, events and people of historical significance, aspects of tribal lore necessary for the child to be knowledgeable of and the day to day expectations of them within the whanau. The education of Maori children may therefore be expressed within a philosophy that seeks to prepare the child for all aspects of living and in order to ensure that each child will ultimately have the opportunity to take an active, participatory role within Maori society. Teaching and learning was not a "bits and pieces" process but was an "integrated developmental type of philosophy" (Pere 1986:2), which sought at all times to acknowledge and validate the `absolute uniqueness' of the child and their position in their whanau, hapu and iwi (ibid.). As people became more competent the form of pedagogy would change, with one means by which knowledge was transmitted being through the varied forms of Whare Wananga and in the informal everyday teachings of life (Kaa 1987).

Mead further discusses the nature of traditional education as being intertwined with religion and ritual.

The traditional schools of learning were religious in nature, and in all pursuits of learning there were rituals to observe. Learning and the act of teaching were not ordinary or common. The importance of the act of acquiring knowledge was emphasised by surrounding the event with rituals. Religion was not separated from education. Learning was elevated high above the pursuits of the community. (Mead 2003:307) According to Pere, “Traditional Maori learning rested on the principle that every person is a learner from the time they are born (if not before) to the time they die” (1994:54). Everyone was in a constant state of learning and therefore teaching because as well as the individual, the collective benefited through the transmission of knowledge (Nepe, 1991).

Maori knowledge was highly valued; it was seen as vital for the social, economic, political as well as spiritual sustenance of a whanau (family), hapu (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe) groupings. The mana (power and prestige) of each group was dependent on the way in which the knowledge of each group was protected, developed and practiced. The way in which knowledge was transmitted was through the process of ako. Ako was based on the knowledge that pertained to the interests of the wider group, knowledge that ensured the physical and spiritual wellbeing, the uniqueness of the each iwi. We can again look to the discussion of Te Aho Matua as provided by Tuakana Nepe (1991). Nepe (ibid) provides a detailed discussion of Te Aho Matua and the six fundamental elements that it embraces: Te Ira Tangata, Te Reo, Nga Iwi, Te Ao, Ahuatanga Ako and Te Tino Uaratanga. Each element is connected in a philosophy that comprises a holistic perception of Maori children and their education. Te Aho Matua establishes the imperativeness of positive educating of Maori children. The Maori child is a “descendant of Maori ancestry that link back to Io Matua Kore” and hence the nurturing, rearing of the child relates not solely to the child but to their entire ancestral lineage (ibid.). As a philosophy Te Aho Matua provides clear structures for the raising and education of the Maori child and operates from a Kaupapa Maori knowledge base that assumes the absolute validity of Te Reo and Tikanga Maori and which embraces concepts that instill a respect and love for the dignity of all people and languages. Furthermore Te Aho Matua locates all Maori people within the complex interrelationships that exist in Maori society establishing clearly defined relationships between Maori people (for indepth discussion refer Nepe 1991).

Given that knowledge was primarily to benefit the collective, education in traditionbased Maori society was inclusive, co-operative, reciprocal and obligatory. Metge (1986) refers to the all-encompassing nature of ako as “education through exposure” (ibid:3). She describes teaching and learning as “informal, semicontinuous, embedded in the ongoing life of the community, open and inclusive” (ibid.). One of the ways that the seamlessness of ako was managed was through the informality that surrounded learning. Children and adolescents were never excluded in everyday contexts, including formal social gatherings and ‘adult conversations’ (Hiroa, 1982). The young had many opportunities to learn etiquette, protocols, family and tribal issues and connections through whaikorero (formal speeches), waiata, and discussions on the marae (meeting places) and in the kainga (homes).

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