Just as some academics from Auckland University are dismissing mātauranga Māori as science, Arohanui Allen, a teacher at Northland College has been committed to using local stories, knowledge and history in her area as a better way to engage her students. Her primary focus is on finding more localised narratives to assist in her students' lessons.
The strategy, Pūrakau, she says is simple; using Māori stories as a way to inspire and engage all students.
“Kei te marae ko te pūrakau e rere ana, ko te mōteatea, te whakapapa te pepeha. Nā reira ko ēnei mahi he puare i ngā akomanga kia hou mai o mātou tikanga, o mātou tikanga o te marae ki roto i o mātou akomanga”
“On our marae we hear our stories, in our chants, our genealogies. So this strategy opens the door to the classroom and welcomes that knowledge and the knowledge found on the marae”
She adds using this method has proven to be successful among her students.
“I te wahanga tuatahi ko tetahi o ngā painga mo te kōrero o Kupe, Ki ētahi o ngā kōtiro, kihai rātou i mōhio ko te tūpuna a Kuramarotini nānā i whakaingoatia a Aotearoa”
“In the first term, one of the highlights was found in the story of Kupe. Some of the girls didn’t know that it was our female ancestress Kuramarotini who named ‘Aotearoa’.”
“I tupu o rātou māia ki te mohio, i whakarongo tetahi tāne ki a Kuramarotini, nā ko Aoteraroa ... tōna mana.
"So they became confident knowing that a male had listened to Kuramarotini whence came Aotearoa, such mana.”
Aroha was invited to be a keynote speaker at this year's National Association of Secondary Deputy and Assistant Principals conference in Christchurch where she made a presentation of the strategy and says she would really like to see methods being implemented across the board.
“Moku ake he wā pai kia tukuna tenei kauhau, ko te whainga matua kia hoki atu enei kōrero ki ō rātou ake kura me te akiaki me te poipoi o ratou kaiako kia haere ki o ratou rohe kohikohi kōrero kia whakaako ki nga ākonga”
“To me, it's a great time to present this work with an aim of the attendees taking this strategy back to their own schools and to encourage their teachers to seek out the stories to teach to their students”
Kura Kaupapa Māori; the example
Such models have been utilised widely through kura kaupapa as this sits within the bounds of Te Aho Matua. She’s hopeful that the successes seen in kura kaupapa can be implemented across the board to all students.
“Kite ana koe ki nga koe ki ngā kura kaupapa, te māia o ngā tauira. Ki a au nei, ko taua māia he hua o tā rātou mōhio ko wai rātou, tō rātou reo, ahurea hoki. Ki ngā kura auraki, pēnei ia Northland College, horekau e kaha kite ana i tera momo i te mea he taiao anō te kura auraki.
“You see it in kura kaupapa Māori students, the confidence they have. To me, that confidence comes from them knowing who they are, their language and culture.”
“For mainstream schools like Northland College, that isn’t widely seen because mainstream schools are a different environment.”