Contexts for Becoming and Belonging
Edited By Mere Berryman, Ann Nevin, Suzanne SooHoo and Therese Ford
Chapter Ten: Connecting with Māori Whānau and Community
← 182 | 183 → CHAPTER TEN
Connecting with Māori Whānau and Community
THERESE FORDUNIVERSITY OF WAIKATO
EXPERIENCES OF BELONGING
As the daughter of a Māori mother and a Pākehā (a New Zealand citizen of Caucasian decent) father, my genealogy reflects the bicultural partnership represented in the Treaty of Waitangi—our nation’s constitutional agreement. I was conscious from a very early age however that the two cultures that formed my bicultural identity were not equally acknowledged, valued or celebrated. My schooling experiences in particular taught me that, amongst other benefits, being Pākehā equated to being akin to my teachers and the majority of my fellow students as opposed to being Māori, which meant being different from what was considered normal. In an effort to feel included, I made a deliberate yet very painful decision to forfeit my Māori identity and claim my Pākehā lineage every day that I attended school. Ironically, however, making this choice did not increase my sense of belonging. As an educator these experiences have influenced how I attempt to engage and develop relationships with Māori students, their whānau (immediate and extended family) and their communities. I seek ways to reframe teaching and leadership relationships and practices so that Māori students can bring ‘all’ of themselves—their prior knowledge and experience—into their classrooms as a foundation for new learning. I also consider the opportunities whānau and community members have...
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