Deepening mātauranga-ā-iwi at the Faculty of Education—Te Whānau o Ako Pai

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Education—Te Whānau o Ako Pai has launched six refreshed programmes of initial teacher education centring on mātauranga-ā-iwi (Māori knowledge within iwi contexts).

“This is one of the most significant structural changes to the Faculty’s programmes within the past 20 years,” says Associate Dean—Teacher Education and senior lecturer Dr Andrea Milligan, who has been involved in leading the changes.

The Faculty has been working since 2017 with a Māori education advisory committee, initiated by senior lecturer Dr Hiria McRae (Te Arawa, Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu) and Associate Professor Robin Averill, to refresh the focus of the programmes. An additional catalyst for change has come from the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand’s new requirements regarding te reo Māori and te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership.

The programmes in these changes are the Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood, Primary, and Secondary); the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Early Childhood; and the Master of Teaching and Learning (Primary and Secondary).

“We now begin all our programmes with a week-long block course called Ngā mihi, which focuses strongly on te Tiriti and the ongoing legacy of colonisation. Students who have completed it this year found it incredibly thought-provoking,” says Dr Milligan.

“And this is just the beginning—these Tiriti commitments flow right through their coursework, highlighting ideas that haven’t had sufficient space in the past. Although it may be uncomfortable for some, all of our student teachers need this strong focus. We need to continue building on our profession’s commitment to te Tiriti partnership and to multi-ethnic education.”

Te reo Māori teacher education programme Kōrero Mai is now part of core course requirements. All student teachers are expected to end the year able to function at least at level 3 or 4 of the te reo Māori curriculum. This is the level of basic communication, using familiar sentence structures.

All Te Herenga Waka teacher learning programmes are supported by teaching and learning framework Te Waharoa, which incorporates Māori worldviews, emphasises criticality, and insists on depth of knowledge, including respecting and recognising mana whenua.

“We work to ensure our graduates work from a commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi, and social, cultural, and ecological justice, to enable their learners to transform their complex, diverse, and changing worlds,” says Dr Milligan.