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

Embedding indigenous knowledge, values and culture for Māori and Pasifika success

Sonia Fonua

Sonia Fonua

Sonia Fonua and Dr Susanne Reid (Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and Faculty of Science)

One objective of this project were to provide courses with cultural advice, guidance, insight and perspective on content and delivery. Working with over 20 courses/programmes, we built a wide network through pikipiki hama with other science educators. We made connections with two community experts. One attended three of our monthly hui to give guidance around cultural perspectives on being and values, Another cultural expert gave two three-hour workshops around empowering to drive change in courses and beyond.

Another objective was to create a space for reflection and data collection through a series of focus groups, meetings and monthly hui. We created a biology talatalanoa (small discussion) group (about 40 members) that met twice in 2018 and will continue to meet. We hosted two Faculty level symposia – talanoa – with 70 and 80 attendees respectively. We now have an email list of over 150 interested staff.

A further objective was to get a student perspective on the impact on success of any changes. We hosted two focus groups with 15 current Māori and Pasifika students, one with three junior teaching staff, and one with ten postgrad science students.

We had great success building networks and connections between the key faculties targeted, FMHS and FoS, with connections beginning in other faculties also. Two very successful talanoa events provided information about the short-, mid- and long-term goals around embedding Indigenous knowledge, values, and culture in science focused courses. We have built sustainable connections and safe spaces for staff to meet, reflect and develop.

This project has contributed to student learning at a broad level. We have focused on changing the educator and the way they address their learning space. We have anecdotal stories about how staff have changed their approach. For example, a year or two ago they would never have considered certain important aspects like introducing yourself.

We learnt from each other, how to create safe spaces and work in a safe way to develop and grow.

We created sustainable networks that will endure beyond 2018. Ongoing communication within the developed networks will ensure momentum is maintained.