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Friday, 8 June 2012

Activity 11 Cultural sensitivity and indigenous learners

As an Occupational therapist and lecturer, I work in field of education and health- I am particularly interested in the Maori strategic framework (Otago Polytechnic)  from an education perspective but also from a health perspective.  Sir Mason Durie has had vital influence on the health and education system, and his work has had an impact on the teaching and the health care sector in which I have worked.  Incidentally, I am going to a seminar in Hamilton by Durie in August.   

 Following an excellent presentation from Kate Timms Dunn, indigeous learners and flexible learning is an area that I will be delving into more.  I would like to acknowledge Kate’s presentation ( and as an invaluable resource for this blog and expanding my knowledge.

The two points I am particularly interested in from the Maori Strategy Framework (Otago Polytechnic), in my professional context are of Maori enjoying a good standard of health and high standard of living, and actively participating as citizens of the world are twofold in my role.  In the curriculum, we also work with the He Korowai Oranga: Māori Health Strategy .The overall aim of He Korowai Oranga is whānau ora - Māori families supported to achieve their maximum health and wellbeing.  I know flexible learning has an e-learning slant, but as I am teaching in a health paper, I bring in the reasons the students need to be aware of, and make use of the resources available to enhance the healthcare for Maori.  The Ministry of Health (2002) state ‘As a population group, Maori have on average the poorest health status of any ethnic group in New Zealand. This is not acceptable. The Government and the Ministry of Health have made it a key priority to reduce health inequalities that affect Maori.  If Maori are to live longer, have healthier lives, and fulfil their potential to participate in New Zealand society, then the factors that cause inequalities in health need to be addressed’ (p. 2).

So, examples of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s indigenous culture in the course design:  Legislation and guidelines from Ministry of Health (as above with He Korowai Oranga Maori Health Strategy), Mental Health Commission are used.  Te Whare Tapa Wha (and other Maori models of health) is also integrated into the course.  Maori and Whanau contexts are used in case studies in integration of practice course.  Statistics are used as exemplars in class to illustrate occupational needs.
Other approaches that I can use to meet the needs include speakers from providers eg. Hau Ora (For Maori by Maori service provider), offering different media for presenting material and also look at access to the course materials and documents.  When planning and delivering the course, Rangatiratanga- learner centreness is a major factor we consider as part of the course and assessments.  For example the DFO case studies will address Ako- direct learner involvement in their learning.
In the course, my experience with working with indigenous learners has been based on Whanaungatanga -building relationships –as with all students.  We provide support if students wish to access it- Maori OT’s, hui for the profession with students involved. 
A challenge may have been if I had to explain Te Whare Tapa Wha with knowing there were students who actually knew more than me!  But, the students offered to present the material to the class- this gained great respect from the class for the students and a sense of achievement.  I am unsure of the challenges for the students as such, I guess this is something I may work on more.  The students in the DFO class who identify as Maori passed the assessments and exams so this is just one indicator- end point not process of learning.  We do have a specialised Maori learning centre with supports at Wintec that students can access.

On a side note, for those of you who also read Gina’s blog, I am teaching the social anthropology course from Hamilton with Gina in Dunedin next semester.  Very excited.


  1. Jayne you have certainly integrated a range of strategies to support Maori students' learning and it sounds like you are doing a great job in highlighting some of the issues facing indigenous people regarding health.

    Does Wintec also have a strategic document like the MSF here at Otago Polytechnic?

    I really like the four aspects of the Te Whare Tapa Wha model of learning which as you say is also used in health. I am writing the four corners (for health) here in case people are not familiar with them: Taha tinana (physical health); Taha wairua (spiritual health);Taha whānau (family health); Taha hinengaro (mental health). This version of the Māori health models – Te Whare Tapa Whā site has more description (slightly different to your link).

    Kate Timms-Dean's presentation was very interesting I agree.

  2. Hi, We are organising our year 1 noho hui here at Wintec and this comes under the umbrella of Social Anthropology which I am lecturing up here with Gina as the course coordinator in Dunedin. I am meeting with Wintec staff on Wed so will learn more about Wintecs strategic direction then. Will be interesting to find out

  3. Kia ora Jayne, be interested to learn more about the context of Wintec too- in my understanding Wintec does not have a Memorandum of Understanding with Tainui like Kai Tahu runaka do here in Otago.(Note the MOU is with our local runaka not TRONT- Te Runaka o Ngai Tahu). OP's MSF covers Kai tahu and all Maori learners who are in the institution, and the strategic vision is outlined in the MSF and applies to Wintec and Central Otago campuses. Interestingly OP just signed with Ngati Whatua a MOU regarding the international campus in Auckland. Ka mihi Gina