“We want our children to go out from school confident of who they are, where they come from and who they represent.” “It’s important the stories people tell about themselves,” Hāromi Williams says. At her office at Tāneatua near the Urewera, where she is Executive Manager of the Tūhoe Education Authority (TEA), she explains it’s a lesson she first learned forcibly when teaching adult migrant students in Sydney’s western suburbs learning English as a second language.
“Teachers enter the profession because they want to make a difference. This approach helps them do that.” MORE THAN 30 years ago when Russell Bishop first started teaching at Mana College in Porirua, he was struck by a single question: Why did so many Māori students start out well but still fail as they went through school?
“We are taking a strengths-based approach. So that teachers can go from where they are now to where they want to be.” AS EVERY CHILD knows, learning to read means first cracking a code. The next challenge is reading to learn – when you move from just identifying the words to extracting deeper comprehension.
At Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga we now manage a database of well over 500 Māori scholars. Twenty five ago years ago Māori academics were so few we’d have had no need for the resource. As for Māori PhDs, with a national total of around 20, some academics would have been realistically able to name them all.
It never pays to underestimate the power of determination. When Patricia (Trish) Johnston (Ngaiterangi, Ngāti Pikiao) arrived to take up the position as Professor of Postgraduate Studies and Research at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi she asked about basic research at the Wānanga and was told by one staff member it was something they didn’t do.