ManaiaSAFE Forestry School Pilot : A Kaupapa Māori Evaluation

Margaret Wilkie, Henry Koia, and Christine Roseveare
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The ManaiaSAFE Forestry School (MFS) was created for safety on many levels in the forest, the most lethal workplace in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2019. A pilot of the MFS programme ran from October 2018 to March 2019 in Te Tairawhiti (Gisborne), one of the most deprived areas in the country, where Māori made up 53% of the population (Census, 2018). The pilot was one phase of a broader project to establish a national network of ManaiaSAFE forestry schools envisaged in their 2016 feasibility study.

A Kaupapa Māori evaluation was co-designed with MFS in 4 phases with 4 reports. The initial scoping review from documentary evidence highlighted a surprisingly high number of multiple stakeholders. The evaluation led on to a ‘rough’ Cost Benefit Analysis using Treasury’s 2018 CBAx template, that includes a series of monetised values, such as one life saved in the forest valued at $4.71million in 2019. A formative evaluation mapped the foundation of MFS including the local businesses and agencies that supported the development of the programme. A final evaluation report summarised the main learnings and findings of the whole evaluation that were presented to key stakeholders in an event coinciding with the graduation of the first cohort of foresters, carrying level 3 qualifications in forestry, including safety with chainsaws and fire hazards.

The tools created for the Kaupapa Māori evaluation were designed for ongoing use, informing self-review and external evaluation of the MFS programme as it develops over time. The pilot evaluation included interviews with questions written, asked and filmed by the tauira (learners who self-titled as rookies) using ipads. These resources were left with MFS. The research was designed to ensure the voices of the rookies and those of their whānau (families), their kaiako (teachers), their forest based mentors, and the local community were heard.

The evaluation aimed to present evidence to inform central government decisions over ongoing funding for the scale up of the innovative, safety based, forestry training programme. The methods and main ‘learnings’ of the evaluation also offered insights to the local forestry industry, forestry training and safety practices. By 2020 central government had co-funded the upscale of the MFS programme to 3 sites, with the 4th cohort of rookies starting their 20 week programme on 10 August 2020. Despite the impacts of covid-19, MFS is 9th Biennial International Indigenous Research Conference 2020 still on target to become a NZQA registered Private Training Establishment and be self-sustainable by the end of 2020.

In early 2020 the authors worked together to develop the evaluation of the ManaiaSAFE pilot into a case study to be included in a textbook for international evaluators. Sharing the story of evaluating MFS in this way was designed to connect with both indigenous and non-indigenous students of evaluation around the world and to share and celebrate the value of Kaupapa Māori practices in training and evaluation. The creation process reflects an indigenous led partnership approach and the final story, the different perspectives and experiences of the authors woven into new shared understandings.