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Turia launches Maori literacy report

Turia launches Maori literacy report

‘Building the capacity to ‘read’ and shape Maori and other worlds’ is proposed as a national definition of literacy in a report released today by Associate Maori Affairs Minister Tariana Turia.

“International Literacy Day is an auspicious day to share this report with our people. ‘Te Kawai Ora: Reading the Word, Reading the World, Being the World’ is a thought-provoking report on tangata whenua approaches to literacy,” said MrsTuria.

“The Maori Adult Literacy Working Party has taken a broad view of literacy and education, and its report recommends policies to improve literacy outcomes for our adults, and ways to assist iwi to achieve key goals of the national Adult Literacy Strategy.”

“A key point of their report is that literacy is a much wider issue than being able to turn squiggles on a page into words that have meaning.

“A common view is that literacy means being able to read well enough to hold down a decent job, and to be able to participate effectively in the family and community life of the ‘knowledge economy’. It goes without saying that they are talking about command of English language.

“For tangata whenua, literacy means bi-literacy – being able to function in both iwi and Pakeha worlds. Otherwise, the reality and world views of tangata whenua are doomed to wither away, and our people are doomed to live forever in someone else’s reality.

“To be able to give meaning to our peoples’ words, you have to be able to ‘read’ our world - the geography of the land, the meaning of whakapapa, of carvings and tukutuku in a meeting house, ‘the politics of life’ of tangata whenua.

“As the report says: ‘Literacy is, at its very heart, a pivotal component of nation-building. Fully realised, it enables people to take part in the fullness of the society that they live in.’

“Let me give an example. This report was written by Kathie Irwin, an educational consultant, Bronwyn Yates of Literacy Aotearoa, Susan Reid of Workbase, Te Ripowai Higgins of Te Ataarangi, Wally Penetito of He Parekereke at Victoria University, Mereana Selby of Te Wananga o Raukawa, Bubs Taipana of Whaia te Ara Tika Literacy Programme, and Rachel Wikaira of the Correspondence School.

“To people who know our world, the names in themselves have meaning. They not only identify individuals who have recognised expertise and involvement in community groups, the names also link those people to whanau and iwi, and to tribal areas. These names have mana.

“Another example is the debate we are having over the seabed and foreshore. The core of the debate is the meaning of words like title, ownership, custom, rights, whakapapa, tupuna, rangatiratanga, mana, and tangata whenua. How do you ‘read’ these words without understanding the world views, tikanga, reo or cultures of Pakeha and tangata whenua?

“’Te Kawai Ora’ notes the huge advances our people have made in bi-literacy, through kohanga reo, kura kaupapa Maori and wananga, and suggests that kaupapa Maori approaches to adult literacy are likely to be most effective.

“This is a challenging report, and I am pleased that since it was written, some of these ideas have been incorporated into the implementation of the Adult Literacy Strategy.

“In releasing it now, I hope the report will encourage our people to contribute to the Tertiary Education Strategy, to debate on Maori education following the Hui Taumata Matauranga and, importantly, to discussions among their own whanau and communities.

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