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Applied and Maori Indigenous Vocational Education

Launch of the Inaugural Edition of the
Journal of Best Practice in Applied and Maori Indigenous Vocational Education

Tangatarua Marae, Waiariki Institute of Technology

Friday 23 October 2009

Te Ururoa Flavell; MP for Waiariki

This is indeed an appropriate setting to be launching the inaugural edition of the Journal of Best Practice in Applied and Maori indigenous vocational education.

I think back to the vision of Tom Reweti, of Hiko Hohepa, and others who dreamed that this marae could be a place where cultures meet, and where the power of knowledge can be used to liberate, to transform and to inspire learning.

Ka mihi ra ki a koe Tangatarua, so I greet Tangatarua – two peoples brought together; ka mihi hoki ki a koe e te tupuna Ihenga, and I greet the ancestral house, Ihenga; and Hine Te Kakara – whose descendants come here to learn.

We are here to talk about learning, about indigenous knowledge, about our language, our culture and our values; our aspirations.

This will be the basis for He Kupu Whakataki.

If there is any one reason that drives me to work as hard as I can in my position in Parliament, it is the situation for Maori education.

Nga Haeata Matauranga – the annual report on Maori education – reported earlier this year that 56% of Maori left school, before achieving the second level of National Certificate of Educational Achievement – NCEA.

That’s more than a twenty percent difference with all learners, just 34% of whom leave without NCEA level two.

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As well, nearly 40% of Maori left school before turning seventeen – compared to the national average of 30%.

And we know that in particular, our Maori men are over-represented in the proportions leaving school without qualifications.

So I was very interested in a recent article published by the Institute of Policy Studies by Paul Callister.

In his report, Callister was specifically looking at what types of tertiary institutions were successful in attracting young Maori males who leave school with very few NCEA credits.

Using Education Ministry data from 2001 to 2008, Callister was able to conclude that no type of tertiary institution stands out for spectacular success in enrolling Māori men in level 1–3 courses, although in recent years the polytechnic sector has been the most successful.

The study also demonstrated that wananga have achieved success in attracting Maori students, but they are attracting relatively few young Maori men in level 1-3 courses.
So this occasion is a great opportunity to celebrate what you do well, and what we can all do better, in giving tangata whenua a chance to gain basic qualifications, and to prepare a foundation for the career path ahead.

I was pleased to receive the invitation – and even more pleased to recognise the grand collaboration that this launch represents.

For He Kupa Whakataki – the Journal of Best Practice in Applied and Maori /Indigenous Vocational Education has come about through the combined energies of Tairawhiti Polytechnic; Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Northland Polytechnic and Whare Takiura – Waiariki Institute of Technology.

The challenge before you and I both is enormous – to bring together the best information, the models and approaches that will make the difference in industry training, in education and training, and ultimately in the future of our peoples.

The Journal will enable a dynamic debate on learning – including workplace practice and trends, vocational education, training and research, and the transfer of indigenous knowledge.

And so I go back to those young Maori men I spoke of earlier.

What will make the difference for their outcomes?

What can tertiary providers do to inspire learning and to encourage success? Is it a matter of targeting or tailoring programmes that will be meaningful and relevant?

What could we be doing in the Maori Party, in Parliament? How can Government better support Maori students?

Is it a question of reinstating Manaaki Tauira; of scholarships and financial support?

The Journal is developed on a platform of indigenous knowledge.

In doing so, it’s hard to go past the definition of someone you all know well, Distinguished Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith.

Hingangaroa describes a kaupapa Maori base for knowledge including three core principles:
• The validity and legitimacy of Maori language and culture is taken for granted;
• The survival and revival of Maori language and culture is imperative;
• The struggle for autonomy over our own cultural wellbeing and over our own lives is vital to Maori survival.

These are matters that have long been discussed by Hingangaroa in his research and that of his wife Linda Te Tuhiwai Smith. I would hope that the time for just writing and talking about it are near an end and we start getting some action. This is certainly my push with the Ministers I interact with.

I want to congratulate the Tertiary Education Commission for supporting this Journal, and in doing so for encouraging research and scholarship in vocational issues from an indigenous perspective.

To be honest, there have been some difficult challenges right across education in recent months, with the decisions around adult education, representation on Polytechnic Councils; and of course the impact of the recession evident in work-based training.

So it is extremely positive that in this environment, TEC is prepared to support such an innovative initiative as this Journal.

In this last week there has been a lot said about Maori innovation as some observers have responded to the audacity of Maori Television putting up a bid to secure the Rugby World Cup rights.

I think back to that definition of kaupapa Maori – the validity, legitimacy, survival and revival of Maori language and culture; the flourishing of our own cultural wellbeing.

Maori Television has established itself as an outstanding broadcaster that has made a tangible difference in the lives of all New Zealanders through the stories it has brought to air.

And what is the most distinctive feature of Maori TV – it is, of course, the influence of kaupapa Maori at its very foundation.

Today we build on that spirit of enterprise, of excellence, of entrepreneurial endeavour that MTS is known by, to bring those same factors to vocational education and training.

And so I am very proud to congratulate all involved in the exciting new venture we are launching today.

We know that there is very little literature written from an indigenous perspective on vocational education and work-based training.

The existence of this Journal will not only provide a literal storehouse of best practice, it will also invite debate and discussion around the articles. In today’s IT environment, the intention to create a digital repository as well as a hard copy of the Journal is of course important.

That online accessibility will mean that best practice initiatives can be shared and will be able to positively inform policy development within Aotearoa and across the globe.

And so I celebrate with you all, the evolution of He Kupu Whakataki.

He Kupu Whakataki will enable vocational education to be described from the context of our historical and cultural realities; to be shaped by our tikanga, matauranga, and the distinctive knowledge amongst whanau, hapu and iwi.

It will be influenced by the legacy of our tupuna; and guided into a final form by sources of our tribal authority; our kuia and kaumatua.

The living ancestry of knowledge which is sourced from Rangiatea will bring Maori understandings to vocational education, training and research.

Maori values, experiences and worldviews will be applied to our perceptions around indigenous labour market issues and trends.

The Maori voice will be heard, and in doing so, Maori learners, managers, tertiary education providers, policy makers, industry stakeholders and local and central government will receive important messages about the unique contribution Maori make to vocational training as with every area of enterprise and education.

As Member of Parliament for Waiariki; as Education spokesperson for the Maori Party, as Ngati Rangiwewehi – it is with great pride that I now officially launch He Kupu Whakataki.


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