The Dual Journey of Navigating the ‘Awa of Higher Education’ From a Māori Doctoral Student’s Lens
For many Māori students, staying in the main flow of the awa (river) is not easy in New Zealand’s mainstream education system. But with the right support mechanisms and structures in place, it is possible, for a Māori doctoral student to achieve educational success as Māori in higher education. This paper discusses what is entailed in the dual journey of a first in family, Māori doctoral student when completing a doctoral qualification alongside a Māori journey in strengthening connections within te Ao Māori (the Māori world). The narrative shares insights of the researcher’s experiences which led to the development of an Indigenous methodology model called ‘He Pūtauaki Model’. A number of key factors for ensuring her success as a Māori doctoral candidate was the continual support and guidance provided from kaumātua (elders), whānau (family), hapū (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe), over a four-year period of completing the doctoral journey, and when a Mahitahi approach was adopted by her supervisors and reinforced by other Te Ipukarea Research Institute postgraduate students made a difference for her in overcoming the challenges that an Indigenous Māori doctoral student can face when navigating the awa (structural mechanisms and psychosocial challenges) at Auckland University of Technology (AUT).