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Headshot Young Girl

Rachel Duckworth


Gisborne, New Zealand

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My challenge is around cultural connection. Many of our Māori students are born and raised in an essentially urban Pākeha environment. Many have very little connection to their Māori whakapapa (geneology). This is reflected in their disconnection from education, they don't feel connected to the Pākeha world, and equally to the Māori world. In Māori culture, being connected is imperative and learning the tikanga (the customary system of values and practices that have developed over time and are deeply embedded in the social context) of your tribe is the first step in developing a sense of self-worth and belonging. Māori students have traditionally been labelled as 'priority learners', poor readers and writers. But what if we changed the message they hear about themselves? Celebrate their strengths, and their culture. Leadership, scholarship, poetry, protest, choreography, oratory, agility, strength, power, waiata, achievement, success, commitment, and whānau!

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