Kapa Haka "Voices": Exploring the educational benefits of a culturally responsive learning environment in four New Zealand mainstream secondary schools

Date

2010

Authors

Whitinui, Paul

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Publisher

Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts

Abstract

Kapa (in rows) haka (dance) is considered a modern day performing art distinctive to what mainstream secondary schools (i.e., high schools Yrs 9-13) in Aotearoa New Zealand offer as way of fostering the social and cultural wellbeing of Māori students who attend. It is also considered a culturally responsive learning environment because it provides opportunities for Māori students to engage in learning more about their own language, culture and traditional ways of knowing and doing. With over 54 thousand Māori students (18%) attending mainstream secondary schools in Aotearoa New Zealand (Ministry of Education 2006), this paper, based on my doctoral research completed in 2007, explores the ‘voices’ of 20 Māori students and 27 secondary school teachers about the educational benefits associated with participating in kapa haka and the implications for improving educational outcomes for these students. The study concluded that the most effective way to improve levels of participation (i.e., interest, attendance, engagement, association and success) working with Māori secondary school students is to employ learning environments that are socially, culturally, emotionally and spiritually uplifting and in particular, to assign learning activities that are specifically linked to their unique identity as Māori. A number of key social and cultural considerations are included to assist mainstream secondary schools (i.e., public State-funded high schools) and teachers to not only better evaluate their own levels of cultural responsiveness working with Maori students but to also improve their understanding of what constitutes effective ways of engaging indigenous and culturally-connected learners in these contexts.

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Citation

Whitinui, P. (2010). Kapa Haka “Voices”: Exploring the educational benefits of a culturally responsive learning environment in four New Zealand mainstream secondary schools. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 09, 19–43.