Improving Leadership Practice Through ‘Listening’: The Perspective of Cook Island Leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand Primary Schools

Ikihele, Naketa
Smith, Alison
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Master of Educational Leadership
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis concerns a qualitative investigation into the experiences and perspectives of Cook Island leaders in primary schools in Aotearoa New Zealand regarding improving their leadership practice through ‘listening’. The study draws on the literature on indigenous ways of leading, Pasifika leadership values, educational leadership, building high-trust relationships, culturally- sustaining leadership, leader well-being, and the listening leader.

This research used a qualitative narrative inquiry approach with three participants. Data were gathered through a series of semi-structured interviews. The main findings suggest that understanding one's identity and values is crucial in shaping a leader's actions and behaviours. Furthermore, listening, questioning and paraphrasing for understanding are critical practical skills that help leaders make their people feel valued. Regular reflection also proves necessary to ensure alignment between core identity and values with daily actions and behaviours.

The findings of this study have practical implications for the development of leadership programmes that are culturally responsive and promote effective leadership practices in diverse educational contexts. The study contributes to the understanding of Pasifika leadership, explicitly focusing on Cook Island leaders, and provides insights relevant to all leaders working within education in Aotearoa New Zealand primary schools.

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