Supporting educators on their journey from New Zealand to Aotearoa

Issue: Volume 102, Number 2

Posted: 23 February 2023
Reference #: 1HAZQF

How do educators journey from living in a New Zealand context to an Aotearoa context? And how do they enact Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the classroom, equitably supporting mātauranga, kaupapa and tikanga Māori alongside their Pākehā equivalents?
Education Gazette talks to Pania Te Maro and Robin Averill about their latest book
Ki te hoe! Education for Aotearoa which addresses these questions with research-based resources for practical implementation in the classroom.

Two of Pania Te Mania Te Maro’s 12 moko playing in her shared office space with Robin Averill at Massey University Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa.

Two of Pania Te Mania Te Maro’s 12 moko playing in her shared office space with Robin Averill at Massey University Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa.

When you hop on the waka with Pania Te Maro (Ngāti Porou) and Robin Averill you’re not expected to pick up an oar and know exactly how or where to row, for the waka itself was not built in a day. Deconstructing and decolonising our understandings of New Zealand histories, or more suitably, Aotearoa histories, is one and the same. It is a learning journey that can’t take shortcuts with a skim read on the internet nor by tracing over the blurb of Ki Te Hoe! Education for Aotearoa. Pania and Robin believe it is also not a journey that one should, or need, take alone.

Pania and Robin began working together at Te Whānau o Ako Pai (Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Education) at the turn of the century. Their shared academic backgrounds in mathematics and commitment to sustaining te ao Māori proved fertile ground for a professional partnership, but more so a genuine friendship.

“I’ve always had this real interest and seen the real need for us all to do a much better job of ‘decolonising’, a word not commonly used back then. But it is now. Decolonising what it is that we are doing, in ways that all teachers can find accessible, and that’s what we’re aiming for. It’s small steps over a long time, but added up it’s a big, big change since when we started working in early 2000s,” says Robin.

Between them they have authored dozens of research pieces on culturally responsive and culturally sustaining teacher education.

Three years ago, editors Pania and Robin sat together in Pania’s whare, devising their next piece in the puzzle of teaching and practising decolonisation.

“It’s a really timely book. Our student teachers need and want ideas of ways to do a better job in their teaching in terms of responsiveness to Te Tiriti than what they experienced themselves either in their schools here, or in their schooling overseas,” says Robin.

He rau ringa e oti ai – many hands make light work

“I started teaching in 1992. Then you wouldn’t have dreamed of the parity for mātauranga Māori as a requirement of the curriculum,” says Pania.

Ki Te Hoe! Education for Aotearoa offers the stories of varying educators – from Aotearoa and beyond – to assist kaiako who are ready and willing to take the journey from ‘New Zealand’ to ‘Aotearoa’.

Pania Te Maro.

Pania Te Maro.

The release of the book coincides with the introduction of the Te Takanga o Te Wā and Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum across primary and secondary schools. The curriculum change bears great significance for “mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori” and will prompt the mahi of many to upheave archaic knowledge systems in education environments. This mahi is not expected to be easy nor immediate, and this is something Pania wanted to acknowledge in the book.

“We needed to get something done to make it easier for other people to unpack, or even to make it challenging. A couple of the chapters are challenging. And that’s OK as well.

“Robin had already done so much great work. She was my mentor in research in this area. Together we could find the kinds of resources that we would need to make a book that would be really supportive of others.”

As Pania and Robin know from their own experiences, undoing and reframing the everyday experience and understanding of colonisation in Aotearoa is not a one-person job. It takes a village, and this is a premise of the pukapuka. The collation of authors and content itself reflect principles of Te Tiriti. Each wāhanga (chapter) invites another on board the waka to help steer fellow kaiako towards Māori-informed knowledge systems which honour and uphold mātauranga Māori in Aotearoa.

 While working alongside other academics and in teaching environments, Pania has held close the whakataukī passed to her from previous colleague Lynette Bradnam at Te Kura Māori. It follows the idea that food is laid out on the table for people to help themselves. The book and its messages are resources that anyone can pick up and put down as they please.

“It’s invitational. You offer it, it’s there on the table, people make the choice. It’s the ‘leading the horse to water’ kind of proverb,” says Pania.

“The way we want to get people on board is through engagement. The hearts and minds sort of work.”

Readers of Ki Te Hoe! aren’t left alone to digest the subject matter upon reaching the final fullstop in each story. Interlaced throughout the wāhanga are points for discussion – these work as tools for individual self-reflection and to extend dialogue in bigger groups. The different exercises labelled ‘he mahi’, ‘he pātai’, ‘he akoranga mōu’ and ‘he pānuitanga mōu’ offer ideas for teaching and professional development, questions to provoke critical discussion, and further reading.

“I think there are some teachers who just say, ‘tell us what to do, and we’ll do it’. It’s not quite like that. It’s not really quite as easy as that. It’s not going to be a checklist. It’s something you have to come back to, make more progress, then read something else, do something else and come back to it again and make more progress.

Robin Averill.

Robin Averill.

“It’s a journey. And I think that that’s what the book hopes to capture – different people’s explorations for their own journey,” says Robin.

Whaowhia te kete mātauranga – Fill the basket of knowledge

While the text appears as a resource for educators, its content and teachings can be applied in any context, explains Robin.

“The more that these ideas are used outside of education and society, the easier it is for those working in education to also be making those changes.”

Many of the country’s institutions, particularly education systems and processes, are of colonial origin which have never been fit for purpose. Aotearoa is home to many people from diverse backgrounds and cultures which means the institutions from education and beyond should be too. The requirement for te ao Māori in curriculum benefits everyone regardless of their ethnicity.

“If you are teaching for indigenous children, Māori children, your teaching pedagogy, your strategies and techniques will also mean that because you know what to do for Māori children, you’ll invite other children to share their backgrounds and cultures,” says Pania.

“You’ll go, ‘we’ve got a Māori whakataukī, has anyone got an Indian proverb? Has anyone got a proverb…?’ You bring in all of these aspects because you’re not centralising Pākehā culture as the norm, so every child from every culture brings their cultural influence,” she adds.

Robin explains that the pathway towards all cultures feeling a sense of belonging is with biculturalism as the starting point, which is a principle in the book.

“It’s the idea of being additive, not exclusive. It’s not only for Māori students, it’s for all New Zealand students to know and understand about te ao Māori. Our philosophy is responsiveness to Te Tiriti, with a view to doing a much better job for indigenous, for Māori. And by doing that, doing a better job for everybody.”

“We’ve got to sustain it, otherwise they won’t have the opportunity,” adds Pania.


Ki Te Hoe! Education for Aotearoa,

Ki Te Hoe! Education for Aotearoa,

Ki Te Hoe! Education for Aotearoa, the latest book from NZCER Press, answers and asks further questions on how we could and should honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the classroom and beyond. As the country moves from dominant Pākehā structures and institutions, we must ensure our educators are appropriately and equitably supporting mātauranga, kaupapa and tikanga Māori for the duration of the journey. In doing so, the future of Aotearoa, the people of Aotearoa who are the future, will be sustained with rich relationships with our culture.

The pukapuka features work from the following authors: Pania Te Maro, Robin Averill, Veronica M. H. Tawhai, Stephen Lawrenson, Brian Tweed, Karyn Aspden, Philippa Isom, Georgina Tuari Stewart, Tony Trinick, Piata Allen, Karyn Saunders, Hiria McRae, Brigit Kerr. 

To read more and to download a digital version of the book, visit link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 8:50 am, 23 February 2023

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