14 March 2018  Reports

Education matters to me: Experiences of tamariki and rangatahi Māori

There is no one Māori, tamariki Māori or rangatahi Māori voice or experience. While many of the concerns voiced in this report are shared by Māori and non-Māori children and young people, we also heard about particular issues that tamariki and rangatahi Māori experience differently.

Tamariki and rangatahi we spoke to emphasised the importance of understanding their life outside of school, and their place within their whānau. Many talked about the importance of teachers pronouncing their names correct. Many saw an increase in te reo Maori speakers as a way to achieve that. They wanted teachers to know and understand their language. Connected with this was their wanting to feel comfortable and safe to explore their culture.

Some young people spoke about their experiences of racism and people judging them because they are Māori. The sharing and preparing of kai was an important part of connecting and creating belonging in the school environment. We also heard that for those who needed kai, where it was provided through the school, some were too embarrassed to accept it in front of their peers.

The lack of appropriate and meaningful ways to connect in mainstream English-medium schools, compounded by negative expectations of teachers and peers, came through strongly as contributing factors in the experience of many rangatahi who are now in alternative education.

“I was asked to do a haka for some visitors to school because the principal wanted to give a cultural experience. But it was annoying because that’s like
the only time he cares about Māori culture.” (Student in secondary school, Māori)