The concepts and principles of Mātauranga Māori form a strong holistic base for teaching and learning. The use of these concepts and principles is not limited to any one group of learners. Durie (1998) used the metaphor of Te Whare Tapa Wha (a strong house) to describe Mātauranga Māori in which the house represents the person: in this context, the house represents the learner. The house is used as a metaphor for good health and wellbeing. To achieve optimum health and wellbeing, each dimension (or “wall” of the house) should be healthy and well balanced. These dimensions are defined as:
- Taha Wairua – spiritual wellbeing (Do I believe I can do this course)
- Taha Tinana – physical wellbeing (Do I have the resources to do this course)
- Taha Whanau – social (family) wellbeing (Do I have the support to do this course)
- Taha Hinengaro – wellbeing of the mind (cognition, mental wellbeing) (Will I be able to cope with the demands of this course).
In the same way, Pere (1991) used the metaphor of Te Wheke (the octopus) as metaphor to describe the same four dimensions. The use of this metaphor gives wider scope for consideration as there are four additional dimensions that contribute to the health and well -being of the person. In teaching situations, these metaphors or models can inform the way in which a tutor optimises learning by attending to all dimensions.
In addition, Mātauranga Māori uses models as the basis of different instructional strategies:
- The concept of ako, which relates to the traditional Māori thinking about the transfer and absorption of skills, knowledge, wisdom, experience, much of which has traditionally occurred in the course of everyday activities. It implies learn and instruct at the same time.
- The concept of tuakana-teina, which refers to the relationship between an older (tuakana) person and a younger (teina) person and is specific to teaching and learning in the context of Māori. Within teaching and learning this can take a variety of forms:
- Peer-to-peer, where teina teaches teina, tuakana teaches tuakana - Younger to older, where the teina has some skills in an area that the tuakana does not and is able to teach the tuakana - Older to younger, where the tuakana has the knowledge and content to pass on to the teina - Able to less able, where the learner may not be as able in an area, and someone more skilled can teach what is required
- The concept of Powhiri Poutama which refers to the mythological story of Tane‟s ascent to the heavens to retrieve the baskets of knowledge. In a teaching and learning context, this can be seen as stair-casing or scaffolding learning.
- The concept (described above) of Te Whare Tapa Wha –which can describe group arrangements in which all dimensions are attended to and support learning.
References: The sources for these concepts can be found in the work of Pere, 1991 (Ako); Tangaere, 1997 (Tuakana-Teina, Powhiri Poutama) and Durie, 1998 (Te Whare Tapa Wha).
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