One pākehā counsellor’s journey towards bicultural competence.
Type of content
This research explores my experiences during a three-year period of learning about tikanga Māori and developing my competence and confidence with counselling in a biculturally-respectful manner. I had two key motives for increasing my bicultural competence. The first was to provide an environment where the indigenous youth I was counselling would feel comfortable and respected. My second motive was to become a positive role model for bicultural partnership and social justice in both my professional and personal lives. While there is a sizable body of research about successful tikanga-based approaches by which Māori practitioners support Māori clients, there is sparse published literature on Pākehā practice-based research using a bicultural approach with Māori and non-Māori clients, especially in secondary school-based counselling. I document my research in a self-reflective autobiography which sits within an interpretive paradigm as I use my reflections and reflexions to construct meaning from my new knowledge and experiences. I draw on two sociocultural theories of learning, which scaffold neatly together, to structure my learning, thinking, analysis and writing. The models are Sonja Macfarlane’s Cultural Competency Poutama and Jack Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory. Using this scaffold, I explore how to incorporate two Māori models of wellbeing into my Solution Focussed counselling practice - Te Wheke and Te Whare Mauri Ora. Of these two wellbeing models, Te Whare Mauri Ora was the most helpful and integrated easily into a Solution Focussed counselling session. There was a dramatic shift in my worldview as a result of this research and I realised that it is not bicultural competence that I need to develop so much as cultural humility. Key implications from this research are that moving into a future as Treaty partners requires all New Zealanders to know the history of New Zealand and the effects of colonisation on Pākehā and Māori both in the past and the
present. Additionally, I suggest that while Pākehā counsellors become familiar with integrating simple and easy to use Māori wellbeing models such as Te Whare Tapa Whā into their practice, it is essential that they also embrace cultural humility as they seek to understand their client’s cultural norms. Finally, I would encourage Pākehā undertaking their own journey of bicultural development to consider scaffolding their learning around Macfarlane and Mezirow’s theories of learning.