National | Books

Mainstream education to gain better understanding through pūrākau

A book of pūrākau designed to connect local schools to marae in their area has been released aimed at breaking down cultural biases in mainstream schools.

The Māori Achievement Collaboration has developed the book, Te Wharetapu o te Ngākau Māori, so it can foster a better understanding of Māori educational achievement.

The collaboration began in 2013 following a call for New Zealand's principals to be more aware of the bias that affects Māori students in mainstream schools.

Te Arahou o Aotearoa's Damon Ritai says mainstream schools don't understand the implications of those biases.

"Our education system and its kaimahi need to go on that journey to understand that their bias has hugely impacted colonisation and our tamariki."

"That will take you on a journey that will enable you to understand te ao māori. That will then enable you to take some aspects of that kaupapa into your class," Ritai says.

New collaborative pukapuka sees better understanding of te ao Māori. 

"The key element is for schools to be able to develop strong connections and relationships, authentic, with marae."

Te Arahou o Aotearoa uses the analogy of a marae to challenge and ultimately change bias in schools.

"Ko te atua o te marae ātea ko Tūmatauenga and that's where you as a kaiako and tumuaki challenge your biases because you are about to enter into the house of Rongo. We don't want you to bring all your perceptions and what you have judged us on into the house."

While aimed at primary schools, the hope is that eventually the book will also be distributed in secondary schools around the country.