"I see me" Embedding of Mātauranga Māori in Social Practice curriculum - enhancing the wellbeing of Indigenous families and communities

Paula Bold-Wilson and `Aulola Lino
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Unitec Institute of Technology, Bachelor of Social Practice (BSP) (4-year degree) programme is in its 6thyear of delivery. The programme is designed to prepare students to meet professional standards and competency of Social Work practice in New Zealand. Moreover, that students are practice ready and culturally responsive to whanau Māori and indigenous communities they will serve. The largest number of students in this programme are of Māori and Pacific descent.

This presentation reports on developmental work undertaken over the last 3-4 years within the BSP programme, relooking at how Māori worldviews are incorporated into the teaching and learning with the intent to increase Māori students’ success. Equally important, to build students capability on working with whanau Māori. Although the embedding on Matauranga Māori is still at its infancy phase, the programme has seen major success in terms of Māori student’s success reaching parity within the Institute but also across the Institute of Technology and Polytechnics (ITP) sector.

Māori student success within the BSP programme is attributed to several factors, but the main one is the embedment of Matauranga Māori. Central to their success is that Māori students are provided with the opportunity to see themselves in the curriculum. It proposed that the embedment of Matauranga Māori in the curriculum is grounded, first and foremost, upon relationships and connections pertaining to the student. This involved the application of tika, pono and aroha as key markers in assessing the programmes level of accountability and compassion integrating Māori philosophical underpinnings. The significance of knowing the student’s name and the effort in pronouncing their names gave validation to their place in the curriculum. Embedding of Matauranga Māori gave prominence to Māori tikanga (processes) and kawa (protocols) that whakamana (empower) and nurtures a safe learning space. This also reinforced that karakia and waiata are not just a tick the box act, but acknowledges a connection to a way of being. This helped to promote an environment that is non-threatening for Māori students engaging in korero that can be topic and statistically sensitive. The BSP programme recognised the worth and magnitude of what the learners bring with them, their rich cultural wealth of knowledge and experience have proven to be of great contribution to the curriculum. This presentation will be of great value to those are preparing people to work with indigenous families and communities.