Te Mana Tikitiki welcomed home

Issue: Volume 101, Number 9

Posted: 21 July 2022
Reference #: 1HAV64

Twenty years ago, Ngāti Whātua gifted Te Mana Tikitiki to the Ministry of Education (He Tohu Umanga Mātauranga) to initiate better academic outcomes for ākonga Māori throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.
On 10 June, representatives from the Ministry were welcomed onto Orākei Marae in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland as Te Mana Tikitiki was called home.

Kristina Perry answers the call of Ngāti Whātua Orākei as Te Mana Tikitiki is welcomed home.    Photo: Merania Makoare-Kerehoma/Ngāti Whātua Orākei.

Kristina Perry answers the call of Ngāti Whātua Orākei as Te Mana Tikitiki is welcomed home. Photo: Merania Makoare-Kerehoma/Ngāti Whātua Orākei.

It is now widely acknowledged that a vast majority of Māori students have and continue to struggle to engage in the mainstream education system in Aotearoa New Zealand.

But behind closed doors, groups of passionate educators have been working hard implementing targeted initiatives for ākonga Māori for decades.

One example is Te Mana Tikitiki.

In the 1990s, members of Ngāti Whātua Orākei in Tāmaki Makaurau realised they could not ignore the huge gap in academic success amongst their own tamariki, and resolved to do something about it.

Te Mana Tikitiki – a programme providing targeted and intensive support for ākonga Māori who require support in relation to behaviour and wellbeing – was born out of a desire for better academic outcomes for Māori students, by a group of passionate Ngāti Whātua people who, through lived experience, understood why Māori were slipping through the cracks.

Since its inception, and through implementation by Te Tahuhu o te Mātauranga | The Ministry of Education in partnership with six iwi throughout the North Island, Te Mana Tikitiki has impacted the lives of countless rangatahi Māori by equipping them with the tools to identify with their culture and whakapapa.

However, there has always been the intention to return the taonga back to its rightful place.

Te māmā o te taonga

As the karanga of the tangata whenua rang out across the Waitemata Harbour at the tomokanga (entranceway) of Orākei Marae, Mereana Maxwell held the flax kete containing taonga that have travelled the length of the country, close to her heart.

Affectionately known as “te māmā o te taonga (Te Mana Tikitiki)”, she was there at the beginning, after getting a call from a dear friend and mentor Katerina Payne asking her to pack up her life in Opotiki – the heart of Te Whakatōhea (rohe) country – and move to Auckland.

At first, she declined. It wasn’t an easy decision, Mereana says, but the statistics were dismal, Māori education needed an intervention, especially in the city.

“I said goodbye to my people to come up here,” she says.

“Where I come from, our tamariki know exactly who they are. I came up here and some of our mokopuna didn’t even know they were Māori.”

It’s been 19 years since Mereana moved to Auckland and the tears she cried as she handed the taonga back to Ngāti Whātua are filled with pride and joy.

“We are returning Te Mana Tikitiki back to its original roots.”

She believes in Te Mana Tikitiki because she knows it works.

“Te reo Māori me ona tikanga plays a major part within Te Mana Tikitiki. Learning basic te reo, learning karakia, why we do karakia, waiata, whai kōrero, pepeha. Modules are Marae, Waka, Mau Rakau, Toi Māori, Taonga Puoro.

“These tamaiti come with their heads down when they start Te Mana Tikitiki. By the time they leave they are holding their heads high,” Mereana says.

“With confidence, self-esteem, mana, pride, knowing who they are and where they come from ‘Ko wai ahau’, we as kaiako set the tone of role modelling good behaviours, ‘awhi mai awhi atu’.”

Wyllis Maihi, Graham Tipene, Mereana Maxwell, Piripi and Paora Davis with the kete containing the taonga, Te Mana Tikitiki. Photo: Merania Makoare-Kerehoma/Ngāti Whātua Orākei.

Wyllis Maihi, Graham Tipene, Mereana Maxwell, Piripi and Paora Davis with the kete containing the taonga, Te Mana Tikitiki. Photo: Merania Makoare-Kerehoma/Ngāti Whātua Orākei.

Know who you are and where you come from

Piripi Davis of Ngāti Whātua Orākei, who is also part of the Te Mana Tikitiki advisory group, doesn’t mince his words when it comes to why he believes Māori students aren’t achieving at school.

“They don’t know who they are or where they come from,” he says.

When he and his brother Paora were growing up, “it wasn’t cool to be Māori… We were treated like second class citizens in our own country”.

This was glaringly obvious in a place like Auckland, where in the 1960s Māori families flocked from rural areas looking for work and better opportunities.

Leaving behind their turangawaewae and culture had devastating effects.

And it wasn’t just Māori who had relocated to Auckland, who were losing their cultural identity.

When it came to gaining recognition of their rights as mana whenua in the Auckland region, Ngāti Whātua Orākei had their own battles.

Realising that real change starts within, a group of passionate Ngāti Whātua educators including kaumatua Danny Tumahai and Esther Davis started the foundational work to establish Te Mana Tikitiki, while Renata Blair and Kate Potter created the Te Mana Tikitiki pilot booklets.

Mark Barnard, Piripi Davis, Mereana Maxwell, Rei Samuels, Graham Tipene, Wyllis Maihi, Tiaki Hunia, Dane Tumahai, and Paora Wiki from He Tohu Umanga Mātauranga Special Education Services supported its initial delivery.

Te Mana Tikitiki began with the purpose of helping Ngāti Whātua tamariki to succeed in education.

This rapidly evolving resource can be accessed by Māori ākonga across Aotearoa with the implementation of holiday programmes and other initiatives.

Well-known Ngāti Whātua artist Graham Tipene who presented Te Mana Tikitiki to the Ministry of Education in 2004, designed the tohu for Te Mana Tikitiki and says the concept came from Sir Apirana Ngata’s famous whakatauki ‘E tipu e rea’ and that thinking.

Graham mentions that a feather in a topknot (tikitiki) can be seen as a sign of nobility and mana, qualities ākonga learn and gain from Te Mana Tikitiki.

“This is just one tool in the stepping stone of mātauranga and māramatanga that we can give to our young people,” he says.

“It’s a blessing to have these books back and to see so many familiar faces, who have been part of this journey. Mā te rākai o te tikitiki. Ka titiro te mana. Through the adornment of the top knot, one’s skills and knowledge can be recognised.”

Effective partnerships for better outcomes

Over the years, Te Mana Tikitiki has been revised and renamed but the goals of the resource have remained the same.

Te Mana Tikitiki is one of six programmes or initiatives that sits within the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) suite of evidence-based practices.

When schools collaborate with iwi on Te Mana Tikitiki, they are putting the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi into practice – through partnerships with iwi and mana whenua, the protection of the mana and wellbeing of ākonga, and the participation of whānau and iwi in teaching and learning for their tamariki.

Huakina Mai is a partner PB4L initiative to Te Mana Tikitiki, joined by kaupapa Māori principles.

Te Mana Tikitiki provides targeted and intensive support for ākonga Māori who require support in relation to behaviour and wellbeing.

Huakina Mai is a universal (schoolwide) initiative supporting all ākonga Māori in all schools. When Huakina Mai is in place, there will be fewer ākonga needing support from Te Mana Tikitiki, and staff will be more familiar and confident with using te reo me tikanga Māori in their classrooms.

To date, Ngāti Whātua, Te Ātiawa, Te Runanganui o Taranaki Whānui, Rangitāne, Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Pūkenga have taken part in
Te Mana Tikitiki pilots. 

Representatives from the Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga and Ngāti Whātua Orākei at Orākei Marae for the gifting back of Te Mana Tikitiki to the people of Ngāti Whātua. Photo: Merania Makoare-Kerehoma/Ngāti Whātua Orākei.

Representatives from the Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga and Ngāti Whātua Orākei at Orākei Marae for the gifting back of Te Mana Tikitiki to the people of Ngāti Whātua. Photo: Merania Makoare-Kerehoma/Ngāti Whātua Orākei.

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

Posted: 9:30 AM, 21 July 2022

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