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

The Journey to Motutapu: Mapping, navigating and sailing through the moana of Psychology

Dr Sam ManuelaDr Sam Manuela (Faculty of Science)

The objective of “The Journey to Motutapu” was to deliver a goal-setting programme to enhance the experience of Stage 1 Māori and Pacific students in Psychology. The programme was informed by the Mana Moana framework, a framework to understand Māori and Pacific wellbeing, to anchor intrinsic and extrinsic motivational approaches on culturally-resonant values.

The workshops were well received, with up to 20 students attending. Although the programme was targeted to Stage 1, students from Stage 2 and 3 participated as well, both alluding to the collaborative approach to learning by Māori and Pacific students in Psychology, and the potential for Journey to Motutapu to enhance the experience of Psychology at all stages of study.

Two Talanoa were held where students could share their experiences of being involved in the Journey to Motutapu, as well as their overall experiences of psychology. Common themes that were identified in their conversations were: Identifying a purpose for studying psychology (and tertiary study more generally); Benefits of structured goal-setting; Breaking student/lecturer power balance; Visibility of Māori and Pacific knowledge and staff; and The importance of culturally-resonant spaces

As an academic and research-active staff member, this provided an excellent opportunity to gain insight into the lives of our students. Having the space for students to share both their personal goals, personal experiences, and for me to be able to share similar experiences during my own studies, gave me insight into the contemporary experiences of Māori and Pacific students, and allowed us to form relationships beyond student/lecturer but rather as people of similar backgrounds. I also learnt more about current in-house initiatives delivered by our Tuākana team and the amazing work they continue to do, despite their limited resources. This has prompted me to do all I can to advocate for more funding for Tuākana.

Although this is the end of the project, it is not the end of the journey with our students. Journey to Motutapu can continue through our existing support networks with increased collaborations between our Tuākana and academic staff members. Furthermore, the insights gained from the project will be shared with psychology academic staff within a series of workshops called “Stoking the Fires” which encourages Psychology staff to engage in culturally-resonant pedagogies.