How much of an introduction do teachers need into Maori culture?

How much of an introduction/immersion do you think teachers need into Maori culture?

Is three “classes” (approx. 2.5-3 hours each) and a day visit to a marae enough?

Maybe it is the Social Sciences teacher in me coming out or perhaps it is just the culturally sensitive and aware person that I am, but in my opinion eight or so hours of “Maori class” and a day visit to a marae is not enough.  We are officially a bi-cultural country, one who is supposed to recognise both Maori and European cultures but beginning teachers are only getting a very limited introduction into Maori culture.  Yet we are to step into very diverse classrooms and teach in a way that is respectful to all cultures but especially Maori culture.  How are we to do this when the “introduction” we get into Maori culture is limited?

Moreover, we do not get any introduction into Maori language, but the Graduating Teachers Standards specifically state that we need to use Te Reo in our lessons.  Would it not be beneficial for beginning teachers (and all teachers) to have lessons in Te Reo?  My answer to this question is yes.  I believe that all teachers should have an understanding of Maori culture (being one of the recognised cultures in New Zealand) and moreover, should be able to understand and speak basic Te Reo.  I believe that it is important that we incorporate this into our teaching practice, even if it is as simple as telling a student “ka pai” when they have done a good job or “whakarongo mai” when we want to gain their attention.  However, this should not be the limit of our understanding of Te Reo.


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