Educators tackle negative Maori stereotyping

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu general manager Hana O'Regan speaks to teachers in Timaru about being positive with Maori and ...
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/FAIRFAX NZ

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu general manager Hana O'Regan speaks to teachers in Timaru about being positive with Maori and Pasifika children to enable their learning, at the Southern Trust Events centre, on Friday.

Stereotyping Maori children negatively has a negative impact on their learning and assumptions about them need to change.

That was the message to Timaru early childhood and primary school teachers at workshops held at the Southern Trust Events Centre in Timaru on Friday.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu general manager Hana O'Regan told the more than 100 educators that they could help break down assumptions.

"It's easy to fall into rhetoric which is not informed ... we need to deconstruct the myths."

Not all Maori were kinesthetic learners, or not academic or not vocational, she said.

The way Maori saw themselves was related to how people reacted to them. Deconstructing negative attitudes and words and replacing them with positive messages was the start, she said.

It was her discovery of newspapers Maori had written in the 1870s that she came across at Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington years ago that set O'Regan on her journey to spread her message of empowerment. Some articles compared Shakespeare's work with Maori poetry.

"Maori were one of the fastest [colonised people] to adopt literacy and many Maori were self taught."

Their desire for knowledge was halted when, at the turn of the century, all Maori along with Pakeha women were forbidden to study at university.

Maori were encouraged into labouring jobs and colonial women were expected to keep house.

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"They were a product of their time."

Like all colonised people in the world, the legacy from such laws and the subsequent attitudes to them has had consequences for today's generation.

"Let's change that and not pass that inherited legacy on."

Her goal is to create positive platforms for Maori when they are young so they can develop resilience strategies and belief in themselves which in turn makes education more accessible.

O'Regan's life partner, Nathan Wallis, from X-Factor Education, also delivered a workshop on brain development.

The interactive workshops were organised by WAVE (Wellbeing and Vitality in Education).

 - Stuff

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