education.govt.nz

Te Ao Haka: New NCEA subject a step towards Māori knowledge parity

Issue: Volume 100, Number 2

Posted: 25 February 2021
Reference #: 1HAHHb

This year, 34 secondary schools and kura are piloting Te Ao Haka, a new Māori Performing Arts subject, across all three NCEA levels and for University Entrance.

Tiria Waitai, a kaiako at Te Kura o Manutuke Turanganui-a-Kiwa in Gisborne, says offering Te Ao Haka as a University Entrance-approved subject is a significant step to achieving equity for Māori learners.

Tiria Waitai, a kaiako at Te Kura o Manutuke Turanganui-a-Kiwa in Gisborne, says offering Te Ao Haka as a University Entrance-approved subject is a significant step to achieving equity for Māori learners.

For years, kaiako (teachers) of Māori Performing Arts have been finding ways to recognise and gain credits for the learning of their ākonga (learners), with many using NCEA Level 3 Dance achievement standards.

“Many of our tamariki can achieve NCEA Level 3 but University Entrance has been a challenge for some of them,” says Tiria Waitai, a Science and Biology teacher at Te Kura o Manutuke Turanganui-a-Kiwa in Gisborne.

Tiria has been passionate about Māori Performing Arts since childhood.

“We’ve been going through the back door because Māori Performing Arts is not considered a university approved subject,” she says.

Not anymore. This school year, 34 secondary schools and kura are piloting Te Ao Haka, a new Māori Performing Arts subject, across all three NCEA levels and for University Entrance. This means the estimated 900 students studying Te Ao Haka can earn credits towards their NCEA and have their learning recognised for University Entrance this year.

Valuing Māori Performing Arts

Until now, students had been able to study Māori Performing Arts through unit standards. The subject is offered in both English-medium and Māori-medium settings, and has drawn an increasing number of students from other ethnicities including New Zealand European, Samoan and Filipino.

While these standards are valued, they do not lead to University Entrance and do not provide Māori Performing Arts the same recognition as other Ministry-set performing arts subjects.

“Because it was viewed as an extra-curricular activity, Māori Performing Arts did not sit within the timetable so we would do all our practice after school hours,” says Tiria.

“With Te Ao Haka [Māori Performing Arts] becoming a University Entrance approved subject, we have taken one step closer to achieving equity [mana ōrite] for ākonga Māori,” she says.

“It also validates that Te Ao Haka, as a taonga tuku iho [heritage], is something that is of importance to all New Zealanders.”

More than just learning the haka

Te Ao Haka is performance-based and grounded in knowledge of Māori culture, language and identity, says Fred Henare, who has been teaching Māori Performing Arts for about 12 years at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rāwhitiroa in Whāngarei.

“It’s more than just learning how to do the haka. It’s about learning the history, culture and identity of Māori. It’s about learning who you are and where you came from, your whakapapa [genealogy],” explains Fred.

Jamus Webster, director of Raukura Performing Arts Academy at Rotorua Boys’ High School, has been teaching kapa haka at the school for 20 years. He says studying Te Ao Haka can help build the confidence and self-esteem of students, develop their leadership skills, and teach them coordination and respect for others.

“Te Ao Haka teaches students a range of soft skills and qualities that can support them to pursue further studies or career pathways and enhance their life skills,” he says.

Reconnection with culture and identity

The cultural link kapa haka provides can also help students who do not fit into the box, explains Jamus, who used to teach te reo Māori and Māori Performing Arts to inmates at North Island prisons.

“Using traditional and contemporary elements of Māori culture, we helped inmates to reconnect to their culture and identity and raise their levels of self-esteem, and provided them another way of looking at life and solving problems,” he says.

“Offering Te Ao Haka as an NCEA subject with achievement standards has been a long time coming, and is a significant step towards ensuring parity for Māori knowledge in our education system,” says Ellen MacGregor-Reid, Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement for the Ministry of Education.

Strengthening NCEA

The Te Ao Haka pilot, which will be rolled out nationally by 2023, is one of three pilots being held in 2021 as part of the Ministry’s wider work programme to strengthen NCEA.

A mini-pilot with NCEA Level 1 English, Science, Religious Studies and Visual Arts is being run in 24 schools this year. The mini-pilot is an opportunity to trial the achievement standards, supporting materials and assessment activities, identify necessary refinements, and develop further support materials, including example teaching and learning programmes developed by pilot teachers. A full pilot of all NCEA Level 1 subjects will be run in 2022.

Draft standards for the new literacy and numeracy co-requisite have also been developed and will be piloted in terms 3 and 4 of the 2021 school year. These will include both Māori-medium and English-medium standards.

Twelve secondary schools, which include two Māori-medium units, one teen parent unit, five kura and one polytechnic, will be involved in the pilot.

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

Posted: 9:32 am, 25 February 2021

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