Canterbury uni researchers awarded for teaching guides that lift Māori students' performance

By Stefan Dimitrof

The University of Canterbury Council has awarded its innovation medal to a team of education researchers forhelping teachers with tikanga and cultural skills.

The group, Te Kāhui A Te Rūrangahau, created a user-friendly guide for teachers to use called the Hikairo Schema Book Series, with the goal of fostering cultural responsiveness and inclusive teaching methods. 

The medal recognises the way the group – made up of Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Whakaue), Dr Matiu Tai Rātima (Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Pūkeko), Dr Te Hurinui Karaka-Clarke (Te Arawa, Ngāi Tahu), and Jennifer Smith (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi) – has shared knowledge and ideas with the wider community and achieved positive results.

Rātima said the kaupapa of helping teachers have the right tools was important.

“In a matter of minutes, hours or days of preparation they can begin to be engaging and working on developing their practice and become better teachers for all of their tamariki but especially their Māori tamariki.”

Rātima said that what was missing was the knowledge and respect of who Māori were and as teachers started to integrate key aspects of Māori into everyday teaching, all tamariki would benefit.

He said that when a five-year fully funded ministry study involving hundreds of schools collating a vast amount of data was done, it showed that, when these Māori principles are were implemented in schools in a sustained way, numeracy and literacy in the school rose for all students - but particularly for Māori students.

“So we know that it works. What we haven’t had is the commitment to carrying on that.”