Youth advocate heads abroad to study indigenous rangatahi

By Stefan Dimitrof

Dr Will Flavell (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua, Tainui and Ngāti Maniapoto) has long advocated for rangatahi Māori throughout the country. Some of his achievements have been as head of Māori studies at Rutherford College, manager at Auckland Council not-for-profit Comet - Te Hononga Akoranga, and deputy chair of the Henderson -Massey local board.

Now he is the 2022 recipient of the Fulbright-Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga scholarship award to undertake research in the U.S.

Flavell talked to Te Ao Tapatahi about his studies at the University of Massachusetts in Boston where he’ll be looking at the learning experiences of Native American youth in secondary schools.

"I’ll look at how language, culture, and identity feature in these schooling experiences," he said.

Flavell said that there was a connection between rangatahi Māori and Native Americans that “indigenous young people based in western society do struggle with several issues that stem from colonisation, so I want to compare or contrast the experiences of rangatahi Māori here in Aotearoa and look if there are similarities or there are differences between their experiences."

To support the regeneration of indigenous languages in a mainstream setting, Flavell’s intention is to promote the same framework New Zealand is using for the two tribes that he will be working within the US.

“We know that the government has the goal of one million Te Reo Māori speakers by 2040 so, if we continue to amplify that on an international stage, that may start to encourage indigenous groups.”

“As a secondary teacher, it was cool to see young Māori pushing and loving their cultural aspirations and I want indigenous rangatahi to be inspired by their own culture and their language”