A tātou kura

Atawhai ngā rito, kia puāwai ngā tamariki.

Ako i ngā tamariki, kia tu tāngata ai, tātou katoa.

Cherish and nurture the shoots, so the children will bloom.

Learn from and with these children, so that we all can stand tall.

Over the last few months, I have been observing teachers on the TER programme and so I have visited a lot of schools. After having heard Janelle Riki-Waaka talk about what schools look like, sound like and feel like a few years ago, I have made a point of trying to enter each school and see it through the eyes of a Māori parent.

The ‘look like’ part of it has definitely improved. Most schools have a whakatauki, many have the school motto in te reo now, though an alarming number have Latin mottoes. I wonder how they came about and whether anybody understands them? Some have their values either entirely in te reo or a mixture. It still grates when I see schools trying to force their values into a word so that they are easily remembered which often means that the Māori value is there just to get a letter to make the word – I saw one the other day that had all the values in English except the last one which was ‘Manaakitanga’ so they could spell a word.

I like how one school I have visited links qualities to the people whose names they used for their ‘House’ names and uses them as their values. Of five people, 3 are male, 2 female and one of the females is Māori. I’ll leave you to ponder on that mix.

I make an effort every time I enter a school of saying ‘Tēnā koe’ or ‘Kia ora’, or ‘Mōrena’ or any other appropriate greeting. So far, I can probably count on one hand the number of times the reply has been in te reo Māori. The majority of receptionists are white females. They are generally lovely, smiley, warm people. I wonder how much office staff and other ancillary staff in schools are included in professional learning about culturally responsive practice or learning about partnership and te Tiriti? As I walk around schools, I often come across cleaners, support staff and groundsmen. When I greet them in te reo, I frequently get a ‘kia ora’, or a ‘mōrena’ in reply and a beaming smile.

Once I get into classrooms, what do I see, hear and feel? In many classrooms, I see the date written on the board in te reo Māori, there are numbers, and greetings, I see the school values if they are in te reo Māori already displayed for all children to see. I sometimes see key kupu – the names of subjects or the words that are related to a unit of learning, there may be posters of the kara, tinana, ngā rā o te wiki, karakia for kai and karakia timatanga. In a few schools, I have seen the school pepeha beautifully presented as a poster. What haven’t I seen? Any student work in te reo Māori on the walls.

What do I hear? If I am there at the start of the day, I sometimes hear the children saying a karakia. I may hear the teacher greet the students with ‘kia ora’ or ‘mōrena’, give basic instructions such as ‘E tū’ or ‘E noho’ or “whakarongo mai’, ‘titiro mai’. Some teachers maintain and build on thos instructions, for some, it happens sporadically. Sometimes, I see and hear no te reo Māori in the classroom at all.

What do I feel? In nearly all schools I feel a sense of belonging, of children being challenged, nurtured, supported to be who they are and learn in ways that are appropriate to their needs. In most schools, children have choices about how they learn and have opportunities to share and lead learning with each other. Relationships are strong, both between kaiako and ākonga and between tamariki.

What I don’t see, hear and feel is well-developed, holistic environments in which te reo Māori and tikanga is integrated and normal.

I am interested in the local elections that are being held later this year. There is a real need, in Kirikiriroa at least, to get more people out to vote. Only 30% of those eligible to vote turned out last time. More than 50% of our eligible voting population is under the age of 35. The majority of those who voted last time was over 55. The Council is made up of mainly white, middle-aged men or white middle-aged women. A group of people, united through Twitter and the hashtag #lovethetron are looking at ways to motivate ‘millennials’ to vote. We already have several ‘millennials’ standing either for Mayor (Louise Hutt) or for council positions (Anna Smart, Tim Young are two of them), the challenge now is to get the youth out to vote.

There is a group called Seed Waikato….

Seed Waikato is a movement that brings millennials together to improve their wellbeing. Led by millennials, we run inspiring events, workshops and digital education that empower you to dream big and take action.

I went along to one of their events a couple of weeks ago. (I know, I’m not a millennial but I have given birth to two!) and as they say, they’re very inclusive and as I heard on the night ‘if you don’t have a connection with a millennial you are likely to quickly become irrelevant.’

We have also been having coffee over political kōrero in a local coffee shop. This came about through the twitter chat when we decided that we really needed to know more about the issues that might be important for the local election and start to get to know the candidates and what they stand for. So far there have just been two of these kōrero and you really need to be on Twitter to get to know about them so although anybody is welcome, the scope for getting to know about them is narrow. Nevertheless, it’s a start and we’re looking at ways to branch out.

So what’s this got to do with Culturally Responsive Practice?

I guess, that both these things just aren’t culturally responsive. They are ‘white’ constructs – the idea of coffee mornings or afternoons or even evenings – are they a te ao Māori sort of thing? Where do kōrero about politics happen and how and where would we engage with Māori. My guess is that they happen at the marae over kai, in the kitchen or at hui that don’t really have a fixed start and end time. I asked yesterday on Twitter, what proportion of Māori voted at the last local elections. I’m supposing that, just like the youth, they didn’t. Because they don’t see themselves in the ‘system’, they feel like decisions will be made anyway regardless of what they think or say because they don’t have a voice.

Interestingly, Hamilton City Council has decided to have Māori representation on some Council committees. The jobs were advertised, local iwi were asked to nominate candidates and 5 worthy people were selected. This is a positive start but my wondering is what the selection criteria were, who applied, how well do they represent ordinary Māori in our city? Is it time to have Māori seats on Council so that we ensure fair representation? Boards of Trustees in schools co-opt Māori and Pasifika reps if nobody from the community stands or is elected to ensure that our treaty commitments are upheld in all decisions made. Why not Councils?

So coming back to schools. There has been some robust discussion recently regarding the compulsory teaching of NZ History and Te Reo Māori in schools. Aotearoa, New Zealand is a bi-cultural nation with 3 official languages, which I believe should be spoken at least at a basic level by all citizens. It’s a fundamental part of our commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi. Knowing our own history – all of it not just one side of it is absolutely necessary to be able to move forward together. If we are to see, hear and feel that commitment in our community and society as a whole all our ‘institutions’ white constructs or not need to work harder at their commitment to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Kids need to see, hear and feel it everywhere they go but school is a place that they spend a huge amount of their time in, so we have to get it right there, right from the beginning.

Digging in to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

a young man walks across a field. Rain clouds scud across a dark sky.
Ka mua ka muri

This post seeks to answer some questions from the learning I am doing through Tātai Pūmanawa. I will always have the voice of my friend and colleague Maria Tibble in my mind as I consider Te Tiriti o Waitangi and what it means to me, the people with whom I work and the way that I interact and live my life in Aotearoa, New Zealand. I can feel her looking over my shoulder, I can picture her smile and hear her voice. Her passion was infectious. So, I will try to honour her as I grapple with the questions and my jumbled thoughts.

Who would hold power after the Treaty was signed?

It seems clear from the articles of Te Tiriti that power would be shared equally; Kāwanatanga, Rangatiratanga, Ōritetanga but if we look at the history of colonisation by Britain, it is clear that the aim was to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories. The aim may have been initially to open trade opportunities but Britain also sought to benefit from the countries it colonised. The underlying sense of superiority that the British had contributed massively to the way that Māori and other indigenous populations in Australia and Canada were treated. The Church which had a powerful presence in Europe, it was at the cutting edge of colonisation across the world and it contributed and legitimised the actions of colonising powers. In “Healing our History” (Consedine & Consedine p.68) there is a quote from a J.M. Blunt; “A missionary might have great love and respect for the people among he or she worked, but would not be expected to believe that the culture and mind of those non-Christians was on a par to that of Christian Europeans.” Whilst the negative impact of colonisation on indigenous populations had been recognised in Britain, and ideas were beginning to change about colonisation the need to protect trade and British economic interests was stronger.

With those mindsets, how could the idea of shared power ever become a reality?

from Healing our History; The Challenge of the Treaty of Waitangi
Robert Consedine & Joana Consedine

Did the Treaty create new rights for Pākehā people? Did it create new rights for Māori people?

‘New rights’ or any rights? In theory, Te Tiriti formalised or set out a framework for governance and the way that Māori and Pākeha lived together with shared rights and responsibilities. In theory all Māori men had the right to vote by 1867, in practice there were so many conditions that they couldn’t. As long as Māori were seen to be inferior in terms of their intellect, their ways of interacting, working, living, communicating, their beliefs then their rights would be compromised.

What important things does the Treaty say Māori will keep?

Rangatiratanga: Māori would maintain independence and control of lands and all that is important to them. My interpretation of that would be that Māori maintained their taonga – their language, culture, stories, tikanga, beliefs and the values upon which their way of life was based.

However, in 1907 New Zealand government passed the Suppression of Tohunga Act which banned Māori traditional healers and religion. This Act meant that Māori knowledge with respect to medicine, the environment, the arts and links between spirituality and secularity was disregarded and not recognised. It was not repealed until 1962. This sort of approach amounts to systematic cultural genocide. George Tinker, American historian suggests this as a definition for cultural genocide;

the effective destruction of a people by systematically destroying, eroding or undermining the integrity of the culture and system of values that defines a people and gives them life.

What impact did the population of Pākehā and Māori have before and after the Treaty was signed?

At the time of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Māori outnumbered Pākeha by 200,000 to 2,000. The Māori economy was strong, communities flourished, traded internationally and had a sophisticated socio-economic system. Following the signing of the Treaty immigration to Aotearoa, New Zealand boomed. The conditions that ensued, the way that Māori were treated and the impact of that on their way of life, their economic status, the diseases that were imported with the new settlers to which Māori were immune all led to a steady decline in the population.

Linda Tuhinui Smith says in respect to the promises that were not kept by the colonisers which were enshrined in Te Tiriti o Waitangi;

“Indigenous populations may have survived colonisation but the impact on their social, political and economic systems is huge.”

a collage of two photos. One of the carved entrance way to a Pā sute, the other are the words inscribed on the inside of the gateway.
Entrance gate to Rangiriri Pā “Without vision the people will perish” Kingi Tāwhiao

Is partnership the same as collaboration? Or consultation? What could Tiriti based partnership look like at CORE?

I believe that partnership means that we have a shared understanding of what our vision for the way our world should be and the way that we interact within it. When I think about my conversations with Maria I remember her fierceness and her absolute belief that her mokopuna should live in a world that recognised – not just recognised, celebrated, respected, revered and absolutely empowered them to know their whakapapa, to practise their beliefs, use and develop their language, to reach their potential and go beyond it. But she was also open to seeing things from different perspectives and acknowledging that the history of Aotearoa, New Zealand is a shared history. We shouldn’t blame the descendants of settlers for the wrongs their tipuna committed. We should encourage them to know the real history of Aotearoa, New Zealand, support them in understanding what happened and why and empower them to own the history. Vincent O’Malley says in the foreword of his book, The Great War for New Zealand, that the stories need to be told and heard if we are to reconcile ourselves with the past, we need to understand it and freely acknowledge it so we can move forwards.

The Waitangi Tribunal commented: “While only one side remembers the suffering of the past, dialogue will always be difficult. One side commences with anger and the other side has no idea why. Reconciliation cannot be achieved by this means.”

For us at CORE and indeed in all our kura and our nation as a whole, we can only work in true partnership if there is recognition, acknowledgement, empathy, understanding and forgiveness of what has happened in the past so we can learn from it and move into the future together.

Further questions I am still pondering;

If we are thinking about working in partnership with tangata whenua, ask yourself what you might know about tangata whenua. Does your own world intercept with the Māori world? If so, to what extent? What is Māori ‘worldview’? What is different about Māori culture to your own culture? If your culture was a ring, and te ao Māori was a ring (picture a venn diagram) how would the two worlds meet?