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The principle of protection is about actively protecting Māori knowledge, interests, values, and other taonga. Identity, language, and culture are important expressions of what it means to be a culturally located learner. Ka Hikitia (Ministry of Education, 2007) emphasises that “culture counts” and describes a commitment to “knowing, respecting and valuing where students are, where they come from and building on what they bring with them” (page 20).

As part of their developing identities, all New Zealand students need to understand New Zealand’s unique bicultural heritage. Consequently, all students need opportunities to learn te reo Māori and gain knowledge and experience of important Māori concepts and customs, considering them in relation to those of other cultures. Language and culture are intertwined, so this learning provides insights into te ao Māori and Māori world views. It can occur in many contexts and across the curriculum.

For example, senior business studies students could discuss businesses generated as a result of the settlement of Waitangi Tribunal claims. Visit the business studies teaching and learning guide for further suggestions.

Read about the benefits of learning te reo Māori me ōna tikanga on pages 10–16 of Te Aho Arataki Marau mō te Ako i Te Reo Māori – Kura Auraki/ Curriculum Guidelines for Teaching and Learning Te Reo Māori in English-medium Schools: Years 1–13.

Explore the cultural competencies that will enable teachers to support Māori learners to achieve educationally as Māori in Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners.

Case study

Changing a social studies programme to meet student needs

Fifteen percent of the students at Oamaru North School are Māori and 15 percent Pasifika. When the school reviewed its social studies programme while participating in professional development on the Treaty of Waitangi, staff questioned whether a unit using the context of Victorian Oamaru to explore the concept of identity was meeting the needs of all the students. Supported by a kaumātua, staff reshaped the unit, retaining the focus on identity but expanding the focus to include students’ connection to their environment and families. Connection is an important social studies concept and an aspect of The New Zealand Curriculum vision.

The school chose the Māori rock drawings at Duntroon as the primary context within which students could examine their relationship with the place where they live. Having explored the meanings of the symbols in the rock drawings for mana whenua, the students created rock drawings to represent their own identities and the connections that were important to them.

Storytelling was woven through the unit. The kaumātua shared a South Island version of the creation story with all the students. He then told stories of the local area to small groups, who went on to share those stories with each other. A visit to a blacksmith provided a different perspective on local history.

Throughout, the kaumātua emphasised that the students needed to know themselves. As they developed their mihi, they learned their own family stories. They presented their mihi in their whānau groups in afternoon sessions. Each group also chose a New Zealand song to share.

Connections were woven among the participants in the learning. For example, students wrote letters to the kaumātua, who responded to each of them. The students then shared and discussed their letters with their families.

Reviewing the experience, staff felt they had deepened their understanding of the holistic nature of The New Zealand Curriculum, of its Treaty of Waitangi principle, and of conceptual learning in social studies. They knew their students better, had grown as a learning community, and had deepened their connections with diverse groups in the wider school community. They experienced the value of connecting with people who can confidently say “This is my story” and who can empower students with that same sense of confidence. They identified positive outcomes for all students and increased engagement for some Māori students.

Download the full print version: Issue 16: January 2012 (PDF, 1 MB)