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Exhibition highlights Māori Deaf students’ experiences

Exhibition highlights Māori Deaf students’ experiences

A different educational approach by Deaf Māori rangatahi will be showcased in a new exhibition as part of Māori Language Week celebrations.

Dr Anne Hynds from the School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington has been involved in the unique collaborative project “Ko wai au? Who am I?”, which arose from a need to better understand the educational experience of Māori Deaf and hearing impaired youth.

With only a handful of trilingual interpreter in New Zealand, Dr Hynds says it has been hard for the Deaf and hearing impaired in the Māori community to connect with their whakapapa.

The unique collaborative project saw students from Kelston Deaf Education Centre in Auckland step out of the classroom with a goal of developing a stronger connection to their whakapapa, using photovoice and narrative methods to explore te ao Māori (the Māori world), and what this meant to them, their community and future aspirations.

One of the students taking part in the project, Kahurangi Mackey (Tainui), wants the resulting exhibit to showcase her pride as Māori Deaf rangatahi.

“The exhibition gives others the chance to discover who we are, our iwi connections and where we are from.”

Her image depicts her in front of a mural along with another Māori Deaf woman, representing, she says, the past and the future.

She hopes the exhibition will encourage Māori youth to engage more with the Māori Deaf community and to help build connections within her community.

Fellow student Eric Matthews (Te Rarawa/Nga Puhi) has felt a strong desire to be on the same level as his Māori peers, and to understand what happens on a marae.

“This is something we wanted–a connection to our maunga, awa and iwi, and what they can give to us.”

Eric describes the photos as a way of showing Māori pride, and says they give a snapshot into the students’ lives. “We are really encouraging our own whanau to come along, so we can show them what we can do.”

This project has highlighted to the students that they can become strong advocates for Māori youth.

“In the future, our role will be to provide youth with support, to nurture relationships built and for both the Deaf and hearing Māori community to come together,” says Eric.

The student-led project allowed both Deaf and hearing impaired students to make their own decisions about how they learnt about themselves and their whanau.

The project has been invaluable and has seen the confidence of the students grow as they learnt more about themselves, says Dr Hynds.

“It enabled us as teachers to listen and learn from these students.”

“Ko wai au? Who am I?” is open to the public, and can be viewed all day on Wednesday 23 July, as part of Te Wiki o Te Reo celebrations at Level 3, Ministry of Education, St Pauls Square, 45 Pipitea Street, Thorndon.


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