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SEED projects 2018 – He vaka moana: Navigating Māori and Pasifika student success

Staff-led manaakitanga (hospitality)

Melissa InouyeMelissa Inouye (Faculty of Arts)

The University can be a very impersonal place. Lecturers can be intimidating. Manaakitanga ( the Māori value of hospitality) can help break down barriers that limit exchange and learning. In this project, lecturers took students out to coffee or lunch in order to build mutual understanding and rapport. Although both are really busy, lecturers and students have to eat. This is an opportunity to expand lecturers’ outreach while respecting their time and giving them the flexibility to reach out and engage Māori and Pacific students in particular. Best practices for Pacific learning suggest that, for Māori and Pacific students, building personal relationships is paramount. These students are often quiet during tutorial and reluctant to “bother” lecturers during office hours.

An initial “whole-class-invited” afternoon tea drew only a bunch of really keen students, none of whom were Māori or Pacific. A “coffee workshop” drew seven people. I emailed a number of students individually via Canvas to offer help with an essay in Week 9, but received only one reply.

In Semester Two, we tried to build rapport early on between Weeks 1-3. We made sure we had effective means of communicating and whenever possible extended invitations in person.

Before the start of semester, each lecturer received vouchers for cafés on City Campus or the Education Campus. They were asked to take care of the vouchers and account for them carefully. They needed to record the name of every student on whom a voucher was spent, along with a student signature and a date. This allowed us to see if invitations correlated with success and ensure the vouchers had been spent properly. We recommended that lecturers invite students who were quiet in class, who didn’t seem to have many friends, or who had struggled with an assessment, particularly Māori and Pacific students. Although the original grant application specified a particular focus on Māori and Pacific students, it also included the possibility to work with international or refugee students, students who were parents or students who were struggling. We provided guidance on wording for the invitations.