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Culturally responsive teaching for the tertiary sector

An innovative new resource developed at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) offers educators across Aotearoa New Zealand practical help to develop or deepen their culturally responsive teaching in the tertiary sector.

Ngā Hau e Whā o Tāwhirimātea: Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning for the Tertiary Sector, published by Canterbury University Press as a free digital edition, is the final in a series proving a game-changer for Aotearoa’s education sector.

These books are establishing themselves as valuable guides for putting ideals into action, project lead Dr Matiu Rātima says.

“The early childhood book (The Hikairo Schema) came on the scene in 2019 and was embraced by ECE educators who already had a strong underpinning philosophy based on manaakitanga (caring for tamariki). The New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER), the publishers, had great success with book sales and uptake with early childhood centres throughout the motu,” he says.

Led by Professor Angus Macfarlane, the UC-based project went on to produce practical, step-by-step culturally responsive teaching resources for primary school (The Hikairo Schema for Primary), and secondary school (The Hikairo Schema for Secondary), both published by NZCER Press, and now for the tertiary sector.

The national Kotahitanga programme run by the University of Waikato in the early 2000s with 12 schools, 400 teachers and over 10 000 students, produced empirical evidence of the positive effects of teacher cultural competence on Māori and non-Māori student achievement.

“This was a watershed project which produced long-term empirical data that was able to conclusively show the positive impact that teacher cultural competence can have on student literacy and numeracy – and this was for all students, but most pronounced amongst Māori,” Dr Rātima says.

The tertiary guide Ngā Hau e Whā o Tāwhirimātea is the team’s first digital, open access resource (a print edition will follow). It provides suggestions for tertiary educators to try in the classroom, based on four values of manaakitanga – ethic of care, whanaungatanga – relationships, kotahitanga – unity and rangatiratanga – student agency and leadership. Some ideas can be implemented immediately, others may be incorporated over a term, or even over a year. Teachers can move at their own pace and that of their students.

“This is not a quick fix; it’s a way to self-reflect, and to bring authentic understanding and practice into your work. It takes time, but the rewards are that you will expand your knowledge personally and this will translate to your students achieving greater success.”

Schools across the early childhood, primary and secondary sectors have invited the UC team to professional development sessions – more than they can accommodate. They are now planning to develop a micro credential professional development programme for tertiary teachers, based on the new tertiary sector resource.

Ngā Hau e Whā o Tāwhirimātea: Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning for the Tertiary Sector, was edited by UC Faculty of Education’s Dr Matiu Tai Rātima, Jennifer Pearl Smith, Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane, Nathan Mahikai Riki and Kay-Lee Jones, with UC library’s Kaitakawaenga Ako Lisa Kaye Davies.

Ngā mihi nui ki a Ngā Pāe o Te Māramatanga. Thank you to Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga (New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence) who provided financial support for this book to be made available as a free open access digital resource.