Today is International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, and this year’s theme – “Indigenous Peoples' Right to Education” – is a sentiment that Whitireia wholeheartedly supports. The right of indigenous peoples to education is protected by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which in Article 14 states that "Indigenous peoples have the right to (…) educational systems and institutions providing education (…) in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning."
In spite of this, the right to education has not been fully realised for many indigenous peoples, and a critical education gap exists between indigenous peoples and the general population. Where data exist, they show consistent and persistent disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in terms of educational access, and retention and achievement.
A number of initiatives seek to address this issue in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The government’s Tertiary Education Strategy clearly states that Māori participation and success in tertiary education is vital, and Whitireia is at the forefront of efforts to increase this. Since our establishment 30 years ago, we have had an ongoing commitment to Māori success, and have in place an official strategy to ensure this approach is sustainable over the long-term and consistent across all our programmes and activities.
This strategy is based on five principles by which Māori success is evident, as identified in the Hei Tauira (2009) study: toko ā-iwi, ā Wānanga (institutional and iwi support); tikanga (integration of Māori values and protocols); pūkenga (involvement of suitably qualified leadership and staff); ako (development of effective teaching and learning strategies); and huakina te tatau o te whare (opening up the door of the house).
Of paramount importance, is allowing Māori to succeed as Māori. This means we strive to ensure students see their Māori identity as an asset, and that by the time they graduate this identity has been nurtured and developed to the extent that they can stand tall and proud as Māori.
Our Māori Strategy is part of our broader mission to lead and illuminate our communities through tertiary education, and gives expression to our values of manaaki, equity, identity, integrity, accountability, responsiveness and success.