Tutors without borders: meeting the needs of Maori learners in a mainstream tertiary organisation
Success of Māori learners within a mainstream tertiary organisation is not only a government priority, but is the present focus of all tertiary organisations within Aotearoa/New Zealand (TEC, 2010; Ministry of Education [MOE], 2009b). This study investigated the learning needs of Māori learners within a provincial mainstream tertiary organisation and the influence Māori and non-Māori academic staffs have on the success of these learners. The aim of this study was to examine incorporation of core Māori values and concepts, as defined by Māori, which can benefit Māori learners in a teaching environment. Kaupapa Māori and Western research methodological approaches were used to gather data from two focus groups. The first focus group comprised of Māori learners enrolled on foundation programmes, with the majority being mature first-time tertiary learners. The second focus group consisted of Māori and non-Māori academic staff of these Māori learners. Data from both focus groups was collated and themed; comparison was made and common themes were highlighted. An important aspect of this research project was that Māori learners validated tutor comments, views, and observations as to what supported them with their learning needs. This research showed that the incorporation of core Māori values and concepts into the teaching philosophy of a mainstream tertiary organisation, to some degree, is being accomplished. It was found that this can be attributed to academic staffs in a mainstream tertiary organisation that have cultural awareness and knowledge which supports Māori learners to succeed personally and academically. The importance of this study is to reinforce and strengthen Māori learners’ identities, through embedding core Māori values and concepts that foster Māori learners’ confidence to academically succeed. The findings of this study demonstrated that meeting the needs of Māori learners’ is not a complex and unattainable goal.