Mai i te tirohanga ākonga : Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu young adult Māori student narratives about their schooling experiences in the Waitaha (Canterbury) region.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This research investigated the narratives of nine Māori young adult students. The primary objective was to gain a deeper understanding of the lived experiences and various challenges confronting this group of Māori students. Many Māori students who enrol at Te Kura as young adults seek to gain the qualifications that they have not achieved while at face-to-face schools. This group of students have sometimes been referred to as a part of New Zealand’s “tail of underachievement” (Education and Science Committee, 2008).
The schools these students attended prior to coming onto the roll of Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu [The Correspondence School] were all located in the Waitaha [Canterbury] region of New Zealand’s South Island. Each of these schools was, to varying degrees, dominated by what appeared to be a Eurocentric institutional culture of schooling. The study’s findings resonate with those of previous studies; however, while these student accounts echoed the sentiments of students in previous research studies (Macfarlane, A. H., 2004; Bishop & Berryman, 2006; Penetito, 2005; Manning, 2009) the narratives of each student focused closely up on the challenges these students faced as Māori students in this context.
This study adopted a qualitative research methodology underpinned by a Kaupapa Māori [translation] philosophy and narrative research methodology. Therefore the voices of the participants was at the forefront of this research rather than lost in a sea of quantitative data. Prior to this study, no research had focused explicitly on the educational experiences of Māori students enrolled with Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura) in Te Waipounamu [South Island of New Zealand]. This research consequently offers fresh insights into the challenges Māori students face, today, in English medium, state-funded schools located in the Waitaha area. A number of key themes emerged from the participants’ accounts of their schooling experiences and directly related to policy guidelines, relevant research and an extensive body of academic literature.
The participants in this study constituted a unique group of resilient young adult Māori students. Their narratives indicate that they have overcome many of the challenges they encountered in their previous face-to-face schools and re-storied their learner identities. As a result, their narratives provide insights that deserve a response from their communities, teachers and policy decision-makers.