Combining Māori and digital worlds

Issue: Volume 99, Number 20

Posted: 16 July 2020
Reference #: 1HA93r

The story of how Māui discovered the origins of fire lies at the heart of a programme that aims to support schools and kura to integrate digital technologies and hangarau matihiko into their local curriculum.

Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko is the National Digital Readiness programme, funded by the Ministry of Education to support teachers and kaiako to implement the revised digital technologies and hangarau matihiko (DT&HM) curriculum content. 

The programme is centred around the purakau/ legend of Māui and Mahuika, who had fingernails of fire. Māui wanted to improve people’s lives by bringing fire into the world and stole her fingernails which unearthed a world of possibilities for people to develop technologies and ingenious thinking. Learning characteristics include being curious, brave and determined – represented by Māui – and kaitiaki, ethical and reflective – represented by Mahuika.

“The pūrākau that guides Kia Takatu ā-Matihiko helps Māori whānau make sense of the programme’s objectives. Māui wants to find knowledge about everything in the world, while Mahuika is the guardian making sure that everything is safe and looked after in that world,” says Tahu Paki, tumuaki paemuri/deputy principal at Te Kura Whakapūmau, and a national facilitator for Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko.

Language key to Māori perspective

The Digital Readiness programme supports teachers and kaiako to navigate the revised curriculum content. For students, it aims to help them become creators and innovators of technology, rather than just users, by teaching them about the concepts within digital technologies and applying them to real life.

Its focus is on teaching students to understand the ‘how and the why’ by using concepts within digital technologies, and applying them to real life.

“Within the new marau/topic that’s been launched, the Māori perspective talks a lot about the relationships of people and technology, which is a little bit different from the mainstream view,” says Tahu.

“A lot of our philosophies within kura Māori have a lot to do with relationships between people and the environment. It’s easy to implement that side of things, but the hard part is around the language. We have to make language a big focus within our kura Māori so we’re not just making up words,” he says.  

The online dictionary, link), is being updated by the Ministry of Education, and features new digital technology and hangarau matihiko terms in te reo Māori. 

“A team of experts research the meaning of the word,” explains Tahu. “They then try to find a similar word that’s compatible from a Māori world perspective. They’re not just straight transliterations from the words but there’s a deeper whakapapa with the words, so they make sense.”

Māori and digital

Te Kura Whakapūmau is a co-ed Year 1–13 Kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua with 132 students in Christchurch (Ōtautahi). The staff there are passionate about ensuring that their students are immersed in Te Ao Māori and become agile digital citizens. It’s a 1:1 device school – and that’s at a minimum. Every student at the kura has an iPad; high school students also have Chromebooks and usually their own cellphones.

Tahu and his wife Merita Waitoa-Paki, who is principal at Te Kura Whakapūmau, came from Nelson’s foundation Kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua, TKKM o Tuia Te Mātangi, which piloted an elearning planning framework in 2012. There, they began integrating iPads into classes as learning support, providing PLD for teachers to show what was possible. 

“Then the Kia Takatū programme started and we looked at different ways to find connections again, going back to our stories and why are we doing what we’re doing,” he says. 

“Our children should not be tied down to only our traditional ways of learning; there should be an integration of old and new things to help our kids survive in this ever-changing world.

“Our tamariki love to create, and to use technology – they are naturally inquisitive and they naturally want to take part in using digital technologies. 

“Our tamariki have one other thing that’s really special and that’s their language. That’s an awesome way to ‘Māori-up’ those aspects and makes it a point of difference for our tamariki; it can take them so many places, especially in this field of technology. Imagine the possibilities if you had a Māori speaker who had all those skills as well!”

Unplugged learning

As soon as tamariki start at the kura, they begin a range of unplugged activities where they learn computational thinking, directionality for coding and how to talk about technical concepts in te reo, says Tahu.

“You don’t need to have a device to learn about coding. There are activities around using Bee-Bots: we’ve been able to do that with our tamariki and get them to use the language. One person holds the cards and they become the programmer, one person is telling the programmer what the code is, one person is the robot. 

“It’s one activity that can be done in 20 different ways, from no technology to people with cards, to using the actual robot itself. There’s lots of kōrero that goes on – lots of problem solving. The coder will tell the programmer, the programmer will insert the kōrero – the instructions – and then the robot will do it.

“We’ve been able to decode our kapa haka action songs: ‘For each action that you did, how could you code this song that was written
50 years ago?” 

Getting whānau on board

During the Covid-19 lockdown, the kōrero was that parents needed to be supported in terms of technology. 

“So we’ve taken that on board and the plan is to hold a couple of workshops to show parents what the kids are doing in terms of using iPads and the learning that we do here at kura, so they can see it’s not actually that hard.

“Sharing their learning with their whānau is a major thing here. We use the Seesaw platform quite a lot for sharing what’s going on, and the kids work with parents.”

Tahu says the kura believes it’s important to change attitudes of whānau around the use of technology and the opportunities it offers their children.

“We break down barriers that give them more knowledge that this is really going to help our tamariki. We just have to create a pathway and show how the tools can accelerate learning and language acquisition; as well as show what the world has to offer.” 

Bridging the digital divide

Bridging the digital divide is a key priority for Te Kura Whakapūmau and 120 iPads have been bought so that each student has his or her own device. Tahu says it takes some planning to achieve this, but the kura believes it’s a good investment. 

“There are lots of trusts and organisations that support the acquisition of some devices but at the end of the day you need to have the ‘why’ of what you’re doing. That helped influence our budget. Because it’s important for our whānau and tamariki, we make it a priority and we have to invest in that.

“We need to break into that world; if we can share our story and our kaupapa Māori, it might encourage another school to take this journey of getting involved with technology and making that part of everyday life.”

Digital readiness programme

Core Education is involved in the delivery of Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko, working in partnership with a range of organisations with expertise in Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko to deliver a uniquely Aotearoa programme. 

With a kaupapa Māori approach, the resources are fit-for-purpose and designed to meet the requirements of the revised DT&HM content that sits within The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

The programme offers both self-review and group review tools, where individuals from schools, Kāhui Ako or other groups can discover their digital readiness and identify opportunities for further PLD to develop their skills and confidence in the revised curriculum content.

There is a range of resources available for free to all teachers and kaiako through the programme; these include tools to help identify opportunities for further PLD and virtual and face-to-face learning opportunities. 

  • Pīkau are short self-directed courses available in te reo Māori and English exploring everything you need to know about the revised curriculum content.
  • Rauemi pīkau/resource toolkits are comprehensive exemplars of what integration of DT&HM might look like in a learning programme in authentic and relevant contexts.
  • Kauhaurangi tuihono/webinars will run until the end of 2020. Most webinars are 30 minutes and support teachers to build their confidence in navigating the progress outcomes and whakatupuranga by exploring teaching resources or concepts within the curriculum. 
  • Ngā kiriahi/community of practice connects teachers and kaiako to share ideas and explore opportunities in DT&HM.

For more information about the programme, webinars and a community of practice, see link)

Stories of teachers connecting learners to authentic contexts 

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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 2:25 pm, 16 July 2020

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