Kia ora rā, I think it’s really important in terms of us as a nation of Aotearoa, the relationship (or the partnership, if you like) between us as a tribal people and the Crown, in terms of how our nation became. But within curriculum what’s really important is for school leaders and kaiako to know their community, and know their Māori community. Know where their tamariki Māori, particularly, are coming from and the relationship they have with that place. So it may fan out wider than just the whānau. It may be amongst the hapū or the tribal area. Schools should really know where they’re located, what tribal area they’re located in, rivers, and those sorts of narratives that are important, so pepeha and all that sort of thing. You know, I think, that’s really the basis of the Tiriti o Waitangi as a principle with curriculum within schools.
The Treaty applies to us as a nation. So whether we’re based down in the bottom of the South Island, where maybe cultural or Māori things aren’t as evident, right to the tip of the North Island. Everybody should, and every school should have a relationship with their tribal folk because the reality is that they are based in a tribal area that has a tribal history, it has a whakapapa, it has stories, it has narratives, and they can add value to curriculum. They can add value in terms of narratives, and stories, and things that the kids can learn about. The kids will know that they’ve got a river and it has a story that’s not just a recent story, it’s an ancient story. So I think there’s lot of ways that principle or that partnership can play out. What’s really critical for school leaders, and kaiako, and parents, is that they get to know who those tribal entities, or iwi, or hapū are. And start with the community within the school. If they’ve got one Māori whānau or a number of Māori whānau within their kura then that’s the place they should start. Those whānau may know tribal elders or people that they would respect and know how to communicate out past the school community. So that's really the crucial place to start.
Within an urban area it may be a little bit more difficult because there may be a number of tribal entities that you have to deal with, but if you start really around those kids, around those tamariki in that kura, and their whānau, and then build out from there.
If I walked into a classroom I would hope to see that the language was normal, was normalised. It wasn’t a big deal. So the kaiako and the students would interact around how they greeted each other maybe. How they talked about the day. Pepeha would not only be up there on the wall but the tamariki would be able to feel comfortable in sharing their pepeha and who they are, and where they are from. Waiata, in terms of telling local stories through song and chant, and all those sorts of things. Pōwhiri would be familiar to them, it wouldn’t be “you know, what do we do?” Those sorts of normal rituals would become a part of the day. It’s about normalising things, as I said. Greetings... and maybe the kaiako, even though they’re non Māori kaiako, would be [using] instructional language – e tū, e noho, hoihoi. You know, all those sorts of things would be normalised.
Te reo Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand is the only place that we can speak this language of ours, and it’s a language... it’s not just because it’s a Treaty principle, or a part of the Treaty, it’s important for our language to survive. Our language won’t survive unless we as a nation embrace this language. Yes, it’s an official language now, and recently in terms of our history (1980s) but we want people to learn language because the see value in being able to speak a bit of te reo. You suddenly understand a mountain like Taupiri or Taranaki that has a story that’s based around that name, so you understand that.
I think there’s a lot of us as educationalists that are very passionate about te reo and just passionate about our language as a people and as a nation. We want people to learn the language because they see value in it and to help it to survive in this country.
I think that’s what has been exciting about Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and the fact the New Zealand Curriculum is this localised... it’s been a real push in terms of localising, valuing and validating local knowledge. If you look across the curriculum areas, in each of those curriculum areas, whether it’s pūtaiao (science) or pāngarau you can find very strong contexts with a Māori lens, and not to make it difficult.
So I would hope that our kura and our schools would not treat the Treaty of Waitangi as something that we should be... it’s not just a political thing. It’s a living document, it’s a way of living, it’s about normalising what is culturally valuable – things that could be enacted in a classroom in a real meaningful way.