Meaningful partnership with Mana Whenua and Pacific communities

Issue: Volume 101, Number 6

Posted: 20 May 2022
Reference #: 1HAUCx

Horowhenua Kāhui Ako is an excellent example of how to develop and maintain meaningful partnerships with iwi, hapū, and Pacific communities to support authentic teaching and learning for ākonga.

Sharing culture and understand is part of Wānanga Wednesday.

Sharing culture and understand is part of Wānanga Wednesday.

Horowhenua Kāhui Ako has every reason to be proud of the partnership it has developed over a number of years with local iwi and the community.

“Relationships don’t happen by accident,” explains Gerard Joyce, an across school leader. “They are strategic, for the long term. You have to really work at it and put in the groundwork. We are starting to see the fruit of it now, but it’s been a multi-year thing to get here. It’s not been one week or one month.”

There have been a number of ways in which the kāhui ako has worked to create these strategic alliances, including meetings, training days, and research which is shared amongst the kāhui ako members. These combined efforts have allowed for great partnership building for each school.

The development of iwi relationships has been aided by the iwi affiliations that Chris Wilton (teacher of te reo at Horowhenua College) has to the Muaūpoko and with Ngāti Raukawa. Chris maintains that it is very important for kāhui ako to have at least one of its members who is an active member of the local iwi as this can help to open dialogue.

“It’s like this,” Chris says. “If I was a teacher at school and I wanted to use the facilities, like a gym, then it’s pretty easy for the school to say yes. But if I came off the street and said ‘I want to do this or do that’, then it will be harder, there will be a lot more processes to go through.”

He also emphasises that it is not just affiliation to iwi that is the key – it is participation that is crucial.

Participation means kāhui ako need to be willing to contribute, it is not just about asking what iwi can do for them or dictating to iwi what you want to do. This understanding has helped Horowhenua Kāhui Ako build a meaningful relationship.

Sally Rollinson, an across school teacher, explains, “I love the authenticity of everything. When we go to them, it’s not a case of ‘we will just check with iwi’. There’s always a genuine desire to ensure that we’re working together and that we are not just trying to tick a box, or saying ‘well, we’ve consulted and that is it’ – it’s really genuine. It’s hard to describe, but you can really feel that. We know when we talk about doing things, there’s always that desire to do the best that we can do to work together rather than one party kind of saying, ‘well, you have to do it this way’.”

Wānanga Wednesday allows students to teach what they know.

Wānanga Wednesday allows students to teach what they know.

Iwi support

Iwi help to support active participation and understanding through teacher only days on marae that are held at the start of the year. Both Muaūpoko and Ngāti Raukawa conduct days and teachers are welcome to attend either or both days. Teachers can converse with each other while they learn the stories, histories and customs of the iwi.

Hamish Stuart is the co-lead principal of Horowhenua Kāhui Ako along with Moira Campbell, who has been a co-lead for five years. Hamish says, “It’s all about getting together, breaking down those barriers where teachers are not fearful of pōwhiri or things like that. Because it’s done in such an encouraging way it just allows teachers to be more culturally aware – it’s not something for them to fear, its being welcomed and sharing kai with people.”

Across school teacher Livingstone Samuelu explains the impact that this can have for someone who is new to the area, as he went to his first marae visit just two weeks after moving to Horowhenua.

Livingstone Samuelu with one of his pupils.

Livingstone Samuelu with one of his pupils.

“It was like no experience before. There was the history of the area, plus, the welcome and the ceremony ...
I knew absolutely no one and to come to experience this a fortnight after moving to this area was really great. I felt the wairua of the area before I started my job.”

Iwi have also been valuable in helping during Covid times.

Hamish says, “We provided iwi with names and addresses of families who may have needed extra kai, and Muaūpoko has their vaxi taxi, which is a bus that goes around and does vaccinations. They also provided us with packs before the holidays, with RATs and masks, so families did not have to wait for them.”

The magic of being Māori

One of the activities that demonstrates dedication to relationship building is Rangatahi Ora, a programme which achieved recognition in 2017 in the Prime

Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. Chris has been responsible for developing and running Rangatahi Ora for the last 12 years. He started the course after completing his masters as he wanted to have a programme that encouraged success as Māori for his ākonga. The concept and aim is to provide Māori spaces in a mainstream environment.

Rangatahi Ora incorporates tuakana teina methods. The ākonga taking part first engage as learners but then use their knowledge to benefit other tamariki Māori in primary schools around Levin by helping them learn pepeha, waiata, tikanga and kapa haka during ‘Wānanga Wednesday’ sessions. Chris says that the sessions benefit the primary students through teaching them the ‘magic of being Māori’ and embracing their identity.

“For our tuakana it’s about realising how much they have learnt and going and sharing it. With a lot of them they know what it is like, so they are very good with the children. Some of our pupils did not know their iwi or how to say their pepeha, but by the time they graduate they have this knowledge and are good at working with children,” explains Chris.

The programme is ongoing for students during their years at Horowhenua College and both ākonga and kaiako utilise time outside class to develop their understanding and proficiency. These activities are supported by whānau, who Chris sees as being the most important element for education.

“You need to keep reinforcing the idea that whānau are our greatest resources,” he says. “Make sure you keep reinforcing how important they [whānau] are. If they have had bad experiences you need to keeping telling

Whānau are important

Gerard and Sally love working within the kāhui ako.

Gerard and Sally love working within the kāhui ako.

Parent input has also been important for research into community views. The research is ongoing, but one of the results is a case study that was published in 2020, intended to investigate the views of parents but also to assist teachers in understanding the nature of the kāhui ako and how collective knowledge can help all of the schools. The survey looked at what parents view as being success for their children, what aids success and what barriers there are to success. One of the strong findings was the importance of mindset.

This information is welcomed by Gerard, who says, “Your own mindset is the one thing you can change, so for parents to recognise that is, I think, really powerful.”

The case study provided some good material but also provoked as many questions as answers. One of these questions was whether the case study was truly representative of Māori and Pacific views. To address this concern, Talanoa was held with the Pacific community to find out their perspective, led by Livingstone.

The consultation with the local Pacific community aimed to find out what they have been doing, and in what ways they would like to be involved with the schools. This led to finding suitable speakers for the talanoa event and an understanding of the local Pacific community. An invitation was then sent out to families and other teachers. But this alone was not enough to ensure success.

“We tried to remove as many barriers as we could. The barriers such as parents working late or needing childcare. We made it a bit later in the evening and we provided childcare so the whole family could come. We thought if we can feed the whole family, that’ll be good. So, food was also supplied. We tried to make it easy. We tried hard to remove as many barriers as we could, so that parents could engage with us,” says Livingstone.

The event demonstrated the collaborative nature of the kāhui ako. Students who were part of Rangatahi Ora provided food and supervised the childcare. Teachers from throughout the kāhui ako attended and sat side by side with parents and students.

“It created a space afterwards where some of those families and the teachers could actually talk about what had come up in the big evening,” says Sally. “It opened up some lines of communication that may not have been there before. There was quite a lot of informal conversations between the teachers and the families. So that was a real bonus for our school.”

The efforts of Horowhenua Kāhui Ako have helped to establish meaningful relationships with their communities. This success has largely been achieved through collaboration and the combined strength that having a kāhui ako can bring.

“The kāhui ako has provided a vehicle to have the time to build relationships and enhance relationships a lot more than if we did not have a kāhui ako,” says Chris.

Rebecca Lock is another across school teacher contributing to the success.

Rebecca Lock is another across school teacher contributing to the success.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:40 am, 20 May 2022

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