Māori and Pasifika students remain as ‘priority learning groups’ for tertiary institutions, a sector of education that often measures success in quantifiable measurables such as grade point averages and timely course completion. While strategic policy documents express an aspiration to make a difference for these learners what is required to bring these policy directions into action to create transforming change.
This issue offers insights and learnings from the He Vaka research fellowship – a group of professional and academic staff at the University of Auckland who committed a year to research dedicated to Māori and / or Pasifika student success in their faculty.
He Vaka Moana is a strength based project that is framed by Oceanic principles and methodologies. We base our fellowship on what connects and sustains us as Māori and Pasifika people – that is Te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa the Pacific Ocean. We draw from our shared ancestral history of navigated the vast Pacific Ocean on purposefully built vessels using Indigenous methods and ways of being to successfully reach their destinations. Our fellowship is based on a model that has been tested and evaluated at international and local levels whereby champions of teaching and learning across faculties work individually and collaboratively to examine existing practise and to develop innovative ways for addressing issues of strategic priority to the institution. Here we look specifically at ways to advance the success of Māori and Pasifika students in higher education, exploring what works, how success if defined, how as a university we listen to those stories and the difference it makes for our teaching and learning.
We draw on our own knowledge and language to conceptually frame He Vaka drawing on a Tongan proverb pikipiki hama kae vaevae manava which means to last together the outrigger of a canoe to another to share stories, resources, to sustain and gain stability before unlashing and continuing on purposeful journeys of discovery. This notion resists homogenising both cultural / ethinic identities and projects as each project is viewed as interrelated with similar and different values and objectives that centre Māori and Pasfika student success at the centre and privilege our Oceanic ways of being.
This issues includes a foreword written by Damon Salesa and Cynthia Kiro, eight articles and a book review of Decolonizing Research: Indigenous Storywork as Methodology. Edited by Jo-Ann Archibald, Jenny Lee-Morgan and Jason De Santolo with a Foreword by Linda Tuhiwai Smith.
He Vaka Moana – Navigating Māori and Pasifika student success through a collaborative research fellowship by Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki and Hinekura Smith
Igniting the vā – Vā-kā methodology in a Māori-Pasifika research fellowship by Hinekura Smith and Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki
The art of wayfinding Pasifika success by Jacoba Matapo and Tim Baice
I am who I am – Pacific tertiary students and the centrality of ethnic identity for successful outcomes by Melani Anae and Ingrid Peterson
Pasifika students and learning to learn at University by Marcia Leenen-Young