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Epistemological voyaging: thinking about a Māori-centric curriculum

Shane Edwards, Jamie Lambert, and Miriata Tauroa

Many Māori are rethinking curriculum development, delivery, and assessment as part of an agenda of ethnovisioning, and a resistance to educational philosophies that legitimate dominant paradigms for knowing and, as a consequence, subjugate Māori epistemologies. This new agenda advances Māori ways of knowing as legitimate and as a positive contribution to Māori wellbeing. The following discussion contributes to this agenda by examining a number of successful elements of Māori-centric education that are receiving wider attention. We draw on an analysis of programme review and student evaluation data, combined with the authors’ personal experiences and studies, which have identified important considerations for educationalists to consider in the development, delivery, and assessment of a Māori-centric curriculum in the context of a Māori majority student population at a wananga. Three elements of Māori-centric marau (curriculum) are examined: it is real, meaningful, contextual, and relevant to students in different contexts; it has Māori values as the pillars and bedrock for teaching and learning; and noho marae are part of tacit thought and practice. Three components of a Māori-centric delivery agenda for operationalising these elements are then suggested via the ideas of whanaungatanga, mana tangata, and tautoko. These ideas are presented as lived and tested theory and practice. Relevant success factors are highlighted as evidence in support of the elements discussed for educationalists across cultures to consider when engaging with Māori.

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