Te Tiriti in my Classroom

For Mentors to Share

If we say Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a living document, then what will it look like embodied in my classroom? What role does Te Tiriti have in a maths or PE class? Figure 1 shows a very truncated timeline of the influence of Te Tiriti on educational policy.

Figure 1: Te Tiriti in Educational Policy

This timeline describes how the principles of Te Tiriti are foundational to the teaching profession and as teachers, we are agents of the Crown, partners in Te Tiriti – tangata Tiriti. We have an obligation to be responsible treaty partners and to educate students to be responsible treaty partners.  Looking at the articles of Te Tiriti can help us begin to imagine and embody what this can actually look like:

Article 1 (Kāwanatanga — honourable governance): Crown/schools to govern educational delivery in an equitable way

Article 2 (Rangatiratanga — retaining self determination / sovereignty): Tangata whenua retain control over defining educational success and educational delivery

Article 3 (Ōritetanga — promote equity): Māori and non-Māori educational outcomes are comparable

To enact this we must ensure our classrooms are safe spaces for all students, where Māori students know they have an ally and racism in all forms is unacceptable. We must work for equity of outcome within our classroom and advocate for it within our schools.

We must develop authentic, on-going relationships with Māori whānau and communities, to understand their educational aspirations for their students and to work in partnership with them to achieve these.  

This is hard, heart work. It requires us to look carefully and honestly at what we accept as normal and neutral within our classes and school and be willing to reimagine our practice. 

It is work that requires a long-term commitment but must begin by taking the first step. Change one classroom routine to make it more welcoming. Adopt one (or two!) phrases that demonstrate te reo is valued in your class and commit to learning more.  Look at one unit of work and see how it could be reimagined in light of mātauranga Māori. Here is an example of what happened when we reimagined a technology unit focused on designing food storage.

SUPPORTING RESOURCES

I think it is important to acknowledge that as a relational space this is an area of practice that we will continue to learn and grow in. We must be willing to sit in discomfort and unfinishedness.

The following resources provide some useful starting points for this journey:

This article from SET in 2018 discusses Mana Ōrite. It is in our course readings, but it is well worth returning to read again. 

This blog from CORE Education is also a helpful one to have in your kete. Keep returning to it as you continue to grow in this space and you will find you get more from it each time.

Tātaiako outlines the Teachers’ Councils cultural competencies for teachers of Māori students.

The Ministry of Education’s Unteach Racism initiative provides thought-provoking and helpful resources.

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