Overseas-trained teachers get Māori lens on the world

Issue: Volume 98, Number 8

Posted: 16 May 2019
Reference #: 1H9uBA

Workshops are being held for overseas-trained teachers to make the best possible start in their new roles in schools.

In term 1, workshops explored topics such as tikanga, Te Reo Māori and culturally responsive teaching practices. Online modules(external link) on these topics are available.

In term 2, the workshops focus on The New Zealand CurriculumRegister for term 2 workshops(external link)

Overseas teachers say workshops held recently outlining Te Reo Māori and tikanga were very valuable to help them build the cultural knowledge and understandings they need to teach successfully in our schools.

The one-day workshops were designed by Otago University on behalf of the Ministry of Education and led by Marama Pohatu. They provided the teachers with an introduction to Te Reo Māori, tikanga, and culturally responsive pedagogy. There was also guidance on Te Reo pronunciation, focusing on the vowels.

Marama says, “The workshops are a support resource, as schools are primarily responsible for the induction of overseas-trained teachers. Every school should have an induction programme, and also be providing a mentor.”

The teachers came from around the globe, and are working at schools around the country.

The first workshop began with a mihi, greetings and an introduction to tikanga, and a discussion of where tikanga fits in a school setting. This included examples of what is already being done, such as events to mark Matariki.

Marama pointed out how often the touchstones of Māoritanga are shared by other cultures. For example, the stars on Subaru vehicles are the same as the seven stars of Matariki, and the patterns of Greek speech-making are similar to those in Te Reo Māori.

She next examined how tikanga and culturally responsive practices can be included in different learning environments such as a high school, primary or ECE throughout any learning programme.

Marama says, “The workshops enhance what schools are already doing, rather than introducing something new. It’s about putting a Māori lens on the world, as well as meeting our commitment to Te Tiriti. New Zealand is culturally diverse, and that must be reflected in teachers’ practice.

“The teachers not expected to become gurus on all things Māori, but they get a useful toolkit to take away.”

Marama says she has been surprised by the openness, enthusiasm and passion shown.

“It is refreshing, as often that is absent from some of our New Zealand-trained teachers. They’re not just ticking a box. They’re genuinely interested to learn, and want to be here.”

She says overseas-trained teachers often speak multiple languages and arrive with a global view of language and culture. “Their lack of knowledge of tikanga and Te Reo is not a negative”, she says, “as they readily embrace the new learning, just as they have other new experiences in their lives before.”

So what did the participants think of the workshop?

Nikita van der Mescht came to New Zealand from South Africa almost a year ago and is now teaching new entrants at Manurewa, South Auckland.

She says, “The workshop has put me at ease and on the right track. It was very useful in helping me understand the different cultural perspectives in New Zealand. I see this every day, as my students are very diverse, and there are so many different cultures represented in the classroom. Now I know the reason for having a pōwhiri. I didn’t know that before. It’s awesome to understand those kinds of things.

“I think for new teachers it’s essential to do a workshop. When starting a new position, it is often assumed that we have a lot of background knowledge about many things related to culture of the students, which we don’t have.”

Fiji-born Swastika Prasad is teaching in a kura in Ōpōtiki, with her husband Praneel. They are the only non-Māori teachers at the kura. She says the workshop was very helpful. “We experience the Māori perspective every day in the classroom. The concepts are Māori but taught in English.

“When we started there, we were welcomed with a pōwhiri. I didn’t understand what was going on. We were lost, generally, in the beginning because we didn’t know the culture,” she says, “but we are gradually absorbing the tikanga and the language, as the students and the community mix Māori words with English in every sentence.”

She says, “I can see how other teachers will learn so much at a workshop, especially the tikanga, the protocols and pronunciation. It took us a year to learn in Ōpōtiki what they can learn in one day at a workshop!”

For additional support through a 20-hour online course, visit
www.nzteachingtoolkit.co.nz(external link)



BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 10:39 am, 16 May 2019

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts