Seeking subject position of indigenous education:
Visit to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in New Zealand
Center for International Indigenous Affairs (CIIA) in the College of Indigenous Studies at NDHU joined Hualien Indigenous Community College (HICC) in a visit to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (TWoA) in New Zealand in Aug. 2015. The purpose of this visit was to find out how TWoA transformed itself from a craft training center to a wānanga recognized by the government, its framework and operation, how curriculum are designed based on the needs of Māori communities and what types of training were developed for elementary and secondary teachers. The group visited TWoA’s Head Office in Te Awamutu which is also its founding site, meeting with Dr Jim Mather (CEO) and John Whaanga (Deputy CEO) among several executive directors to learn about the history and core value of TWoA as well as the team responsible for academic development to discuss curriculum design. In addition to TWoA, the group also visited three elementary and secondary institute that work closely with TWoA: Tai Wannanga, a Māori junior high school, Nga Taiatea a Māori immersion junior high school and Te Wharekura o Nga Purapura o Te Aroha, an immersion elementary school.The education system in New Zealand has three levels, the third being tertiary education which includes mainstream university, poly tech and vocational school as well as wānanga. From its early incarnation, TWoA was established over 30 years ago, it is currently the second largest tertiary institute in New Zealand (following Auckland University) with 120 locations nation-wide, a student body of 30,000, and staff of 1,800. TWoA offers a wide range of courses, from Level 1 certificate to Master’s degree, in addition to those based on Māori cultures such as te reo Māori (Māori language), ritual, health care, arts, and navigation, there are vocational training courses that lead to certificates in business management, information technology and forestry as well as bachelor’s and master’s degree on education, social work, indigenous development and applied indigenous knowledge, all of which are developed in a kauapap Māori framework.
Māori educators stress that higher education is not a western concept: there is robust education systems within the Māori tradition where children’s aspirations are observed at a young age to support fitting development and that communities hold a variety of higher learning centers to train specific talents. The group also visited a community organic garden in Auckland to understand the operation of trust funds. These experiences have led the group to understand and appreciate how the vision for Māori education is to depart from a colonial context and reinstate education system within Māori culture and tradition through effective utilization of Treaty of Waitangi settlement and trust establishments. It is noteworthy that Dr Jim Mather, previous CEO of Māori Television, brought to TWoA in 2013 his expertise in marketing and organization structuring to lead TWoA into the next phase of advancement to become more independent and effective in its operation.
The College of Indigenous Studies at NDHU has collaborated with HICC in the past few years, one of which is signing an Memorandum of Understanding with Makutaay indigenous community in Fongbin Township to begin research and learning collaboration as a way to implement collective consent mandated by the Indigenous Basic Law. This visit to New Zealand marks another collaboration working towards constructing indigenous education where indigenous peoples hold the subject position as well as accumulating basis for academic exchange for CIIA.