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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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The identification of Kaupapa Maori elements that exist within Kura Kaupapa Maori was first researched by Graham Hingangaroa Smith in the mid 1980s and a solid foundation of literature has been developed to further extend on that work in regards to Kaupapa Maori elements that may been utilised as a basis for bringing about change in the educational experiences of Maori people. In his early work Graham Smith highlighted that within Te Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori there existed particular cultural tenets that enable and supported Maori pedagogy.

The development of Te Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori have placed Maori in a position where not only the definitions of what is Kaupapa Maori have been important but where significant moves in the identification of Maori pedagogical practices have been made. The development of the philosophy document ‘Te Aho Matua’ also highlights key Maori values, processes and pedagogical approaches that underpin Kaupapa Maori education. Akonga practices within Te Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori are also highlighted in the paper ‘Kaupapa Matauranga’ by Katerina Mataira, Pita Sharples and Aroha Sharples, in which the outcome of learning is considered to impact on all elements of Maori identity, roles, obligations and cultural positioning in the world. Graham Smith defines ‘Akonga Maori’ in the following way;

Akonga Maori is the preferred Maori way of teaching and learning. It is not necessarily the traditional way although Akonga Maori is derived from traditional concepts and values. Akonga Maori emphasises the inter-relationship of teaching and learning, in that they are not understood as separate concepts. In Maori world view, “teaching” and “learning are one in the same ide; thus the Maori term for “learn” is Ako, the Maori term for “teach” is Ako. This perception differs significantly from the Pakeha notion which percieves “teaching” and “learning” as distinclty sparate items. (Smith, G. January 1987:1) In this paper he argues that Te Kohanga Reo pedagogies are grounded within the construct of akonga Maori. As noted earlier in this review ‘akonga Maori’ is deemed a critical factor in regards to Kaupapa Maori education.

Tuakana Nepe (1991:15) outlined Kaupapa Maori in relation to the development of Kura Kaupapa Maori, stating that Kaupapa Maori is the “conceptualisation of Maori knowledge” that has been developed through te reo Maori and transmitted through oral tradition. This is the process by which the Maori mind “receives, internalises, differentiates, and formulates ideas and knowledge exclusively through Te Reo Maori.” Nepe locates the origins of Maori knowledge within Te Reo Maori and in doing so argues that that revitalisation of te reo Maori is critical in the understanding of matauranga Maori. As such, she states, Kaupapa Maori knowledge has its origins in a metaphysical base that is distinctly Maori and therefore this influences the way Maori people think, understand, interact and interpret the world. A return to traditional knowledge is a process being undertaken by a range of Indigenous Peoples. Native woman writer Rayna Green (1990), reflecting on Indian notions of leadership in their communities argues that a return to tradition is a radical and necessary change for Native American peoples.

For Nepe (1991), Maori knowledge derives from a spiritual domain and is therefore esoteric and tuturu Maori. Te Reo Maori enables the student to access the depth of matauranga Maori in order to conceptualise and understand fully the implications of the knowledge at hand. Te Reo Maori and Kaupapa Maori knowledge are inextricably bound (Nepe 1991). These opening comments are included to link the broader notions of akonga and Kaupapa Maori upon which much of the literature is based. We will move on now to look further at concepts, elements or tenets that have been identified within the literature as critical to Maori educational processes, structures and pedagogy. A number of authors have identified critical notions and concepts that are inherent in Kaupapa Maori (Pihama 1993; Bishop 1996; Smith 1996; Taki 1996; Smith 1997).

Graham Hingangaroa Smith highlights six intervention elements that are an integral part of Kaupapa Maori and which are evident in Kaupapa Maori sites.

These as being;

Tino Rangatiratanga (the ‘self-determination’ principle);

taonga tuku iho (the ‘cultural aspirations’ principle);

ako Maori (the ‘culturally preferred pedagogy’ principle);

kia piki ake i nga raruraru o te kainga (the ‘socio-economic’ mediation principle);

whanau (the extended family structure principle);

kaupapa (the ‘collective philosophy’ principle).

Leonie Pihama (2001) adds to this list the centrality of te reo and tikanga Maori and adds to the discussion of tino rangatiratanga the importance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and processes of decolonization. The remainder of this review will be focused upon these key kaupapa Maori elements in relation to current Maori philosophical and pedagogical developments.

The principles outlined here by Graham Smith have also articulated by other writers. One group that provided an overview of key factors that underpin Kura Kaupapa Maori was the Maori Education Commission. The commission was set up by the Minister of Maori affairs Tau Henare in 1997 and consisted of six Maori who were highly skilled and held in high regard by the Maori community. The main objective of the Commission was to listen, observe and conscientiously represent the views of Maori in determining the nature and content of advice that they gave to the Minister. The Commission believed that whilst Kaupapa Maori programmes were still in their infancy and therefore required the development of a comprehensive support infrastructure, they were achieving success. The Commission highlighted that many Kura Kaupapa Maori claim low levels of truancy, few behavioural issues and high levels of whanau support and involvement.

In Report Three (1999) the Commissioners discussed several intervention and success factors that underlie Kura Kaupapa Maori. The factors identified are as


Tino Rangatiratanga Emancipatory model Visionary approach Maori knowledge validation Akonga Maori: Maori pedagogy School kawa Whanau control Kia piki ake i nga raruraru o te kainga The factors highlighted by the Commission and Graham Smith provide indicators as to key elements underpinning Kaupapa Maori developments. The next section will provide further discussion of the broad principles of Kaupapa Maori that influence contemporary Maori pedagogy.

Te Reo me ona Tikanga Having access to the cultural, social and economic resources of Te Ao Maori means having the opportunity to learn and speak Te Reo Maori. This means having the support of whanau and having access to ancestral land. This means being able to live as a Maori, with a secure identity. As such a key element in the discussion of Kaupapa Maori is the centrality of Te Reo Maori me ona tikanga. As noted earlier, Graham Hingangaroa Smith (1997) writes that Kaupapa Maori paradigm in education is founded on three key themes,

• The validity and legitimacy of Maori are taken for granted

• The survival and revival of Maori language and culture is imperative

• The struggle for automony over our own cultural wellbeing and over our own lives is vital to Maori struggle.

This locates te reo Maori me ona tikanga as critical elements in any discussion of Kaupapa Maori principles and practices and is in line with the assertions made by Tuakana Nepe that Maori language must be viewed as essential in the reproduction of Kaupapa Maori. Indigenous writers such as Lilikala Kame‘eleihiwa (1996) Mary Kawena Pukui (1972) and Fyre Jean Graveline (2002) remind us of the importance to “Look to the Source” (Pukui et.a. 1972) for guidance.

Graham Hingangaroa Smith (1997) outlines Kaupapa Maori as a term used by Maori to describe the practice and philosophy of living a ‘Maori’ culturally informed life. In essence this is a Maori world view which incorporates thinking and understanding. Maori writers and academics from several different disciplines have articulated the importance, centrality, validity and the imperative to guarantee the survival of Te Reo Maori. Taina Pohatu (1996) advances the argument that cultural underpinnings of whenua and whakapapa are imperative to ensure cultural transmission and acquisition. (socialisation). His work titled – ‘I Tipu ai Tatau i nga Turi o o Tatau Matua Tipuna’ is a statement of cultural re-centering and emancipation. Te Ahu Rei’s (1998) work discusses the importance of Wananga Reo as a learning and teaching intervention for the revitalization of Te Reo Maori.

The point being made here is that when te reo Maori me ona tikanga are viewed as valid and legitimate then Maori are no longer positioned as ‘the other’, but rather hold a position of being the norm within our own constructions. This then acts as a challenge to Pakeha dominance. This is clearly an issue for Kaupapa Maori implementation within ‘mainstream’ institutions and settings. Where it is beyond the scope of this review to provide in-depth discussion of tikanga elements that impact upon ako Maori, we will provide a brief discussion of the notions of mana, tapu, tika, pono and aroha. Through these concepts we are able to see more clearly the ways in which relationships and actions are mediated in complex ways within tikanga Maori.


Tikanga may be referred to as protocols and processes which define, regulate and guide healthy relationships. Kaumatua are the guardians of whanau tikanga.

Tikanga may be generally described as the protocols and tribal customs. The discussion arises from the view that elders preferred to indulge their inquisitive mokopuna in much the same way that the many female ancestresses of Maui indulged his strengths and weaknesses. It is their aroha in the end which transcends their mokopuna’ clumsy efforts and leads to his success – except for his final challenge. Tikanga would also include what Linda Tuhiwai Smith (2001), identifies as Maori ethics within Kaupapa Maori practice. These include notions of;

aroha ki te tangata (a respect for people) he kanohi kitea (a face seen is appreciated titiro, whakarongo, korero (look, listen and speak) manaaki tangata (share and host people, be generous) kia tupato (be cautious) kaua e takahia te mana o te tangata ( don’trample on the mana of the people) (2001:221) Mana Mana has been by Dr Rose Pere 1982:32, in terms of being; ‘psychic influence, control, prestige, power and associated beliefs’. Mana is ‘multi-form’. Mana can be ascribed and acquired. It can also be trampled upon as individuals and as groups. Mana can thereby be publicly conveyed and withdrawn. Tapu and Mana are two fundamental concepts which are used to govern the infrastructure of the Maori society which derives from the kawai tipuna. Taina Pohatu (1996) refers to te kawai whakapapa as a cultural template whose inter relatedness connects us and provides the source for our identity in the physical world. Ancestral connections and whakapapa links directly to mana and tapu. ‘Te Hinatore’ report;, outlines this by stating that;

[o]ur mana as human beings is a mana that is linked with the kawai tipuna, since the creation of human beings was the work of the kawai tipuna. And because the kawai tipuna are our immediate source of mana, they are also the source of our tapu. The relationship between mana and tapu are so closely intertwined as to be almost interchangeable in nature. The mana of a person will determine the comparative tapu of that person. (2001:51)


Tapu functions at many levels. For example; tapu has been defined in terms of being a restrictive or prohibitive force counter balanced by its use as a binding relational sanction. A principle which acts as a corrective and coherent power within Maori society. Tapu provided the psycho-spiritual ‘police’ effectively acting as a protective device. Pa Tate (1993:177) developed a conflict resolution model sourced directly from matauranga Maori. Within this framework he provides three distinctions of Tapu.

Tapu relating to Being (Te Tapu o te tangata ora, personal dignity & Self worth) Tapu relating to Value (Linkages to Atua, Tangata and Whenua) Tapu relating to Restrictions (Hiki o te tapu, Lifting of tapu) Tapu is viewed in an active sense. Tapu is ‘being with mana’ capable of bringing something into effect. Being human is constituted as a spiritual and physical totality which links the tangata ora (living person) directly with their Atua (God).

From this view, to enhance a part is to enhance the whole. Conversely, to violate a part is to violate the whole. With respect to these key concepts, to neglect a part which constitutes the whole is to neglect the whole. It is for these reasons that respect for people and their culture is an observance of tapu.


Mereana Taki once noted “a familiar prompt of my childhood is captured in the phrase; ‘kei a koe to tika’.” This phrase places responsibility for mindful behaviour back to the listener. It says look within, where your learning has been woven in to the fabric of your being. There lies a journey to this understanding. Pa Tate, (1993) defines tika as a relational principle which is underpinned by virtue of being ‘right and proper’. The dynamic is constituted as being;

In relationship to other people In relationship to all creation In relation to all links to higher spiritual power (Atua/ God) from whence intrinsic worth is derived (dignity) which compels respect, and is able to command calls for a response in principle and action.

A question often asked is; ‘kei te tika tera’ or are you sure that is fully accurate and correct. The unspoken qualifications are; one needs to be quite clear and completely accurate before presenting something to say. These sanctions are reflections of the enormous importance Maori society places on oral literacy bearing in mind the prior discussions on te Reo me ona Tikanga.


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