National | Education

Māori culture is more than pōwhiri - students

Rangatahi visiting Polyfest today spoke out about how they want teachers and other students to better embrace Māori culture and performing arts.

“It’s not embraced at all until its powhiri time,” says Tohu Hika from Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate.

Travis Collins from Rototuna High School says, “We have a few Māori teachers and a few teachers that claim it but aren't doing it.”

Her friend Mokoia told Rereātea reporters that their school does celebrate the culture sometimes but more needs to be done.

“There have been a couple of times where we had the Prime Minister come into our school and we did a powhiri for him and it feels like we only really powhiri him because he was a big thing. It wasn't cause it was like a protocol,” she says.

The comments come following a new series of reports titled Education Matters To Me released by the Children's Commissioner. The report surveyed more than 1,600 primary and secondary school students about the changes they want to see in the education system.

One student in the report said he was once asked to perform a haka to entertain visitors, but that was the only time his principal paid attention to Māori culture.

Minister for Māori Education Kelvin Davis says some of the comments in the report were "heartbreaking" but the government's upcoming education summits were an opportunity for Māori to have a voice in education reform discussions.

Today marks the third day of the ASB Polyfest with division one haka groups taking to the stage including Te Pou Herenga Waka from James Cook High School and Ngā Oho o Waiōrea from Western Springs College.

Those at home can watch all of the Māori stage performances and the full schedule here.