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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 success of Kaupapa Maori within Maori education generally and Maori language immerson in particular cannot be underestimated. Within the broad range of precepts borrowed in from matauranga Maori is the institution of whanaungatanga. It is perhaps the locus of greatest struggle but also of greatest openness to recovery and transformation. This institution is summarised by Pa Tate, (1993) as being constituted from;

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Literally it is the birthplace, teaching and learning context and tap root of the survival of Maori as indigenous peoples and knowledge. Bearing this in mind Joan Metge (1995) reminds us that;

the time has come for us to recognise that, in the real world, not the academic realm nof abstractions, Maori people use the word whaanau with an array of referents, that its use varies according to the context, and that its meaning in particular situations must never be taken for granted. (Metge1995:68)

Kaupapathe ‘collective philosophy’ principle

Kaupapa Maori initiatitives in Maori education are held together by a collective commitment and a vision. ‘Te Aho Matua’ is a formal charter which has collectively been articulated by Maori working in Kaupapa Maori initiatives. This vision connects Maori aspirations to political, social, economic and cultural wellbeing.

Kaupapa in this context relates to the underpinning philosophies that connect people and processes through a common interest or intention. Within Kura Kaupapa Maori this has been further conceptualized through the development of statements such as Te Aho Matua, which encompass the fundamental philosophies held within the Kura.

The notion of “sticking to the kaupapa” is advanced in the report ‘Te Kawai Ora’ The report of the Maori Adult Literacy Working Party (2001). It is noted that maintaining a clear kaupapa is important to maintaining clear expectations of the

programme. It is noted:

For some programmes ‘sticking to the kaupapa’ is one of the ways in which they achieve best practice; delivering what they are known for, what students come to expect… Carrying through the same kaupapa, no matter who is running the programme or where, means that they are holding fast to their organizational philosophy. (ibid: 67) Decolonisation Inherent in Kaupapa Maori is the notion of struggle. This links directly to expression of Tino Rangatiratanga, and ideas that are framed in a ‘by Maori for Maori’ paradigm. Out of struggle comes the desire to critique and transform.

Critique is an integral part of Kaupapa Maori theorising. From Awatere’s 1984 ‘Maori sovereignty’ to Walker’s 1990 ‘Ka whawhai tonu matou’ to Tahana’s 1980 work ‘A critical analysis of some studies of Maori schooling’, Maori academics have been driven by a sense of struggle and a sharpened critique of the dominant ideologies which serve to marginalise Kaupapa Maori. As Graham Smith (1997:25) writes, The act of ‘struggle’ itself is seen to be an important factor in the cycle of conscientisation, resistance and praxis in not only making sense of one’s life; but in also transforming it in more meaningful ways, and ultimately re-claiming it.

Kaupapa Maori seeks to work against the negative impacts of colonization and the ongoing assertion of deficit based theories that dominate explanations of Maori underachievement. Leonie Pihama (1993) argued that the introduction of the ‘Parents as First Teachers’ programme was framed within positivist constructions of compensatory education which ignored wider cultural and structural considerations. Pihama (1993) argued that PAFT is not an emancipatory programme for Maori; rather it espouses ‘victim-blaming’ scenarios that maintain structural inequalities, perpetuating the subordinate positioning of Maori. More recent critique of the deficit approaches held by teachers in mainstream schools have been undertaken by Russell Bishop, Mere Berryman, Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai and Cath Richardson as a part of the ‘Te Kotahitanga’ research project. Bishop et.al. (2003) found that a key element in the maintenance of underachievement was the discourse of deficit thinking that prevailed amongst many teachers. They noted in their conclusions;

The Maori students, those parenting these students and their principals (and some of their teachers) saw that the most important influence on Maori students’ educational achievement was the quality of the in-class face-to-face relationships and interactions between the teachers and Maori students. Incontrast, the majority of teachers suggested that the major influence on Maori students’ educational achievement was the children themselves and/or their family/whanau circumstances, or systemic/structural issues. This deficit theorising by teachers is the major impediment to Maori students’ educational achievement for it results in teachers having low expectations of Maori students. This in turn creates a downward spiralling, self-fulfilling prophecy of Maori student achievement and failure.

(Bishop et.al. 2003: 4-5) Cherryl Smith (1994) analysed the issue of iwi, arguing that iwi development was a discourse of power currently being tested by Maori and state interest groups.

Smith argued that iwi development, whilst being problematic, cannot be understood without examining imperialism and colonisation and the wider context of struggle by indigenous peoples worldwide. Smith proposed that ‘decolonisation’ was therefore a necessary part of indigenous people’s development.

Pihama (1993) relates that decolonisation is a process of revealing ways in which colonisation has influenced beliefs and social practices, that influence and contribute to the social construction of what it means to be Maori, creating power dynamics that privilege the colonising forces. As a part of recognising the impact of colonisation on internal Maori structures and relationships a number of authors have dealt directly with issues of gender. Gender relationships have changed significantly since colonisation and it is argued that Kaupapa Maori needs to engage the ways in which Maori knowledge has been impacted on as a consequence of the imposition of other knowledge forms (Mikaere 1996). A good example of this notion is found in the Te Aho Matua document developed from a Kaupapa Maori base for Kura Kaupapa Maori. Within Te Aho Matua there are clear statements in regard to gender that indicate that within Kura Kaupapa both girls and boys must be treated with respect. (Nepe 1991). The role of decolonization in the balancing of gender positioning has been noted by a range of Indigenous Women writers (Trask 1986; Trask 1993; Irwin 1992; Irwin 1995 ;

Mikaere 1996; Maracle 1996). This is important in Kaupapa Maori as it locates both Maori women and Maori men as critical in Maori initiatives. There is currently an imbalance in regard to decision making for Maori which can be located as a consequence of the ongoing marginalisation of Maori women through the imposition of conservative gender beliefs. It is through a process of decolonization that we are able to carefully assess the ways in which colonization has impacted upon tikanga Maori and the construction of contemporary Maori pedagogy.

Decolonization also enables Maori students to engage in discussions related to Maori issues in ways that are supportive and affirming of their worldviews.


The complexity of Maori pedagogy is evident. So too is the notion that Kaupapa Maori is not bound by any one discipline or sector, rather Kaupapa Maori is transportable and transferable to a range of contexts. What is critical is the commitment to undertaking a holistic approach to Maori pedagogy in order that the many elements of tikanga Maori can be interwoven in appropriate ways for teaching and learning to take place. Such is the notion of ‘ako’. Writer after writer indicates that Maori pedagogy is not new, but is derived within a long and ancient history of tikanga Maori and is informed by matauranga Maori that is sourced in thousands of years of articulation and practice. The ability and commitment to look to the past for answers to present (and future) Maori educational developments is perhaps the most critical factor to Maori educational achievement. The literature also indicates that dominant forms of schooling as introduced to Maori in the early 1800’s has not worked for the majority of Maori people. Kaupapa Maori literature also indicates that in fact the answer is within us and within te reo and tikanga Maori. In order for success to be the experience of Maori students there is required a fundamental need for the affirmation and validation of Maori people, language, culture and Maori aspirations.

The complexity of Maori pedagogy is not to be viewed, however, as limiting or restrictive. Rather it presents a multitude of possibilities for those that are willing and committing to bringing about positive change for Maori within education. What is clear is that there have always been a range of pedagogical forms that have been a part of Maori experience. The construction and transmission of matauranga Maori has occurred in many forms and processes. For example, there have existed many different forms of whare wananga and there are many ways in which knowledge has been transmitted, whether it be through wananga or through daily experiences of relationships through whakapapa. This indicates that pedagogy is not solely a formal process and practice but has many varied expressions. An example of this is that of ‘adult’ Maori education, the literature reflects that the critical factors within Kaupapa Maori are applicable across all age groupings. If we look at existing Maori education programmes such as Te Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori we see that ‘adult’ education takes place alongside the tamariki in the context of the Kohanga and Kura whanau. It is groupcentred and kin oriented and these dynamics lend themselves to a more supportive learning environment for all concerned. This is not to deny the specific nature of ‘adult’ education, rather it indicates that in contexts such as Te Kohanga Reo there are multiple levels at which learning is occurring.

This review provides an overview of Kaupapa Maori education philosophies as a basis for considering the implications for enhancing learning outcomes for Maori learners. The elements, principles and values discussed here must be viewed within the wider context of cultural, spiritual, political and economic experiences of Maori people. They must also be understood as being a part of a wider matrix or cultural template within which Maori pedagogy is located. The instigation of a process towards shaping successful pedagogies for e-learning for Maori is exciting and the critical factors noted in this literature review will provide a strong foundation for such developments.


Barrington, J & Beaglehole, T.H. (1974) Maori Schools In a Changing Society, An Historical Review, New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Wellington Bedggood,D., (1980) Rich and Poor in New Zealand, George Allen and Unwin, Auckland Binney, J., (1968) The Legacy of Guilt: A Life of Thomas Kendall, Oxford University Press, Christchurch Bishop, R. (1996). Collaborative Research Stories: Whakawhanaungatanga.

Dunmore Press, Palmerston North Bishop, R. and T. Glynn (1998). The Development of Kaupapa Maori Education Initiatives in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Education Canada Vol. 38(No. 2): 50-56., Canada Bishop, R. and T. Glynn (1999). Culture Counts: Changing Power Relations in Education. Dunmore Press, Palmerston North Graveline, Fyre J. (2002) ‘Teaching Tradition Teaches Us’ in Canadian Journal of Native Education, First Nations House of Learning, University of British Columbia, Canada Green, Rayna (1990) 'American Indian Women: Diverse Leadership For Social Change' in Albrecht, L. & Brewer, R.M. (eds) Bridges of Power: Womens Multicultural Alliances, New Society Publishers in cooperation with the National Womens Studies Association, Philadelphia Hemara, W. (2000). Maori Pedagogies: A view from the Literature. New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Wellington Hohepa, M. (1990). Te Kohanga Reo hei tikanga ako i te Reo Maori: Te Kohanga Reo as a context for language learning. Department of Education. The University of Auckland, Auckland Hohepa, M. (1999). Hei tautoko i te reo: Maori language regeneration and whanau book reading practices. Department of Education. The University of Auckland, Auckland Huata, H. N. (1992). Tino Rangatiratanga: The Maori Struggle Within Education.

Department of Education. The University of Auckland, Auckland Hunn, J.K., (1960) Report On Department Of Maori Affairs, Government Printer, Wellington Irwin, K, (1992) 'Towards Theories of Maori Feminism' in Du Plessis, R. (ed.) with Bunkle, P., Irwin, K., Laurie, A., Middleton, S., 1992 Feminist Voices: Women's Studies Texts for Aotearoa/New Zealand, Oxford University Press, pp 1 – 19 Irwin, K., Ramsden, I. & Kahukiwa, R. (eds), 1995 Toi Wahine:The Worlds of Maori Women, Penguin Books, Auckland Ka'ai, T. (1990). Te Hiringa Taketake: Mai i Te Kohanga Reo i te Kura: Maori Pedagogy: Te Kohanga Reo and the transition to School. Department of Education. The University of Auckland, Auckland Kame‘eleihiwa Lilikala (1996) A Legendary Traditikons of Kamapua‘a: The Hawaiian Pig-God Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu Makareti (1986) The Old Time Maori, New Womens Press, Auckland (orginal 1938 Victor Gollanz, London) Maori Adult Literacy Working Party (2001) Te Kawai Ora: Reading the World, Reading the Word, Being the World, Report to the Honorable Tariana Turia, Wellington Maori Education Commission (1999), Maori Education Commission Newsletter Three Issue 2, Wellington Maracle, Lee (1996) I am Woman: A native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism, Press Gang Publishers, Vancouver Marsden, Maori (1988) The Natural World and Natural Resources: Maori Value Systems and Perspectives, in Resource Management Law Reform, Vol. 29A.

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