This article presents the findings of a research project that examined six Māori students’ perceptions of how their Māori identity impacted on their experiences in a four-year Bachelor of Physical Education (BPE) programme. The BPE programme is positioned in a faculty of education situated in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, and has an annual intake of approximately 60–70 students. On average 20% of these identify as Māori. The research process involved both individual and group interviews conducted by the first author, who asked the students what Māori identity meant to them, and how they sensed their Māori identity had impacted on their experience of the BPE programme. The students willingly shared their views as Māori, providing insight into how they sensed they were perceived by their lecturers and peers. They also expressed their desires and needs as Māori students. Whilst these six research participants appreciated the lecturers’ attempts to introduce bicultural pedagogy, to use te reo and integrate tikanga Māori into their teaching, they also felt the need for more identifiable Māori role models and mentors.
This led the students to desire more Māori lecturing staff who could provide authentic Māori learning experiences, especially in courses that focused on Māori content.